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NZ's travel bubble with Victoria paused for 72 hours after Melbourne Covid-19 cases

New Zealand's travel bubble with Victoria will be paused from 7.59pm tonight for 72 hours initially, after the latest Melbourne Covid-19 outbreak. 

People wearing protective face masks whilst walking in Melbourne, Australia (file picture). Source: istock.com

"As with previous pauses, it will be under constant review," Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. 

He said New Zealand officials assessed a pause as the "most cautious option... as there are still several unknowns with the outbreak". 

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Jacinda Ardern said there will be an update later today, after a fifth local case was reported in Melbourne. Source: 1 NEWS

"The Government understands the disruption this will temporarily cause affected passengers," Hipkins said. "It was a close call but the correct one given the current unknowns. The decision follows the travel bubble framework."

Are your travel plans affected by the pause? If so, and you are willing to talk, please email news@tvnz.co.nz

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield spoke of the restrictions put in place in Melbourne, "including the number of people who can gather both publicly or privately, widespread use of masks and some restrictions on travel".

He said the best thing to do was for New Zealand to pause flights from Victoria for a 72-hour period "until we see the impact of those measures in Victoria" and whether there was wider community spread.

"Our primary consideration is making sure that New Zealand is kept safe and we keep the virus out of New Zealand. We feel it is proportionate and precautionary for New Zealand to put that pause in place now."

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It comes as a pause has been placed on New Zealand’s travel bubble with Victoria. Source: 1 NEWS

Dr Bloomfield said he would like to get pre-departure testing for people who had been in the north-Melbourne area coming back into New Zealand. That would be done 72 hours prior to leaving.

"We'd like to make sure, as the situation evolves, we're able to put that requirement in place and then ensure people are abiding by that requirement."

For New Zealanders in Victoria, or Australians from there planning to come to New Zealand, "the important thing is to follow the instructions and advice of the Victorian health authorities", Dr Bloomfield said. 

The travel bubble pause came after a fifth Melbourne community case was confirmed today and new restrictions were placed on the city. Later this afternoon four more Covid-19 community cases in Melbourne were confirmed.

"Whole genome sequencing has identified that the cases reported yesterday are closely linked to a previous case identified in the community in Wollert on 11 May after leaving managed isolation in South Australia," Hipkins said.

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"An epidemiological link has yet to be determined between these cases and there is currently no known link between people in the current outbreak and any of the exposure sites from Wollert."

Earlier today, the Ministry of Health asked any person who had visited Melbourne since May 11 to monitor for symptoms and seek advice from Healthline should any arise. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this afternoon that New Zealand health officials were in close contact with their counterparts in Melbourne.

The Minstry of Health also asked any person who had been in any of the locations of interest at certain times in Melbourne to contact Healthline for advice on testing and isolating.