New Zealand will suspend non-quarantine travel from New South Wales from midnight Thursday (NZST), after two community cases of Covid were detected in Sydney.
NZ Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters the suspension will initially last 48 hours, while the source of the infection in the two Sydney cases is under investigation.
Hipkins said the break would be subject to “constant scrutiny,” and if more information came to light and prompted officials to reopen earlier or extend the break, they would.
At this point, it only applies to New South Wales, not all of Australia, and will not affect those flying from New Zealand to NSW – only those coming in the opposite direction.
Hipkins said the government was aware it would cause disruption for travelers, but had erred on the side of caution. “We weighed this very carefully,” he said.
“I am confident that we will know more in the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.
A Sydney man tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. Australian health officials confirmed his wife had also tested positive on Thursday.
Genomic testing has linked these cases to a probable case at the border – but authorities have yet to find a clear chain of transmission. This has raised concerns that there may be a case of a ‘missing link’ between border and community affairs, which has yet to be identified.
A statement from the minister’s office said anyone in Australia who was at one of the exhibition sites was subject to New South Wales government requirements and should not travel to New Zealand. He also ordered all New Zealanders who were in one of the hot spots to self-isolate and get tested.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday announced new restrictions on gatherings in the Sydney metropolitan area.