25 Jun 2021

Australian traveller who visited Wellington has Delta variant

10:58 pm on 25 June 2021

The Australian traveller with Covid-19 who visited Wellington has the Delta variant - New South Wales officials have confirmed.

Blood test for COVID-19. Examination of a blood sample for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Photo: 123RF

The Delta variant is considered to be twice as contagious.

They say the other traveller who visited alongside the person with the virus tested negative on return to Australia and was not infectious while in New Zealand.

Ministry of Health said in a statement NSW health officials "confirmed an epidemiological link and we were awaiting confirmation of the completion of whole genome sequencing".

It was also confirmed the case is linked to the Bondi cluster, which now has 65 cases.

The cluster was only identified last week, with numbers growing each day.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced today that people who live in, or have worked in four Sydney local government areas in the past two weeks, will be locked down from 11.59pm (NSW time) on Friday.

The Sydney man visited Wellington between 18-21 June, with more than 10 places becoming locations of interest.*

Thousands of people in the Wellington region have been tested over the last few days, all returning negative tests so far. There has also been no traces of the virus in wastewater.

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said the confirmation this evening reinforced officials were taking the right approach with precautionary actions.

"The signs so far are encouraging - testing has ramped up and there have not been any community cases at this point.

"But I want to emphasise the importance of staying vigilant, stay home if unwell and get advice about having a test, wash hands regularly, cough and sneeze into the elbow, wear masks or face coverings on all public transport, and keep track of where you've been - scan QR codes wherever you go and turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app dashboard," McElnay said.

"It's incredibly important people keep up to date with the ministry's locations of interest in Wellington and if you've been at one, to continue to isolate either for the full 14 days and get at least two negative test results or to isolate until a negative day five test, depending on your situation."

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today the region was still in a period of heightened risk.

The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first detected in India but has since surfaced in more than 70 countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Hipkins said earlier today that in some ways the possibility of the person having the Delta variant had not changed the approach because in New Zealand, authorities have always assumed that Covid-19 is very infectious. He said the ultra-cautious approach still applies.

Wellington is in level 2, until at least 11.59pm on Sunday. Cabinet will meet on Sunday morning, and provide an update after its meeting.

While masks are only mandatory on public transport, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern encouraged people in Wellington to wear masks in all public places.

Health experts say they are mystified as to why the government is not making masks mandatory in more places, and urged people to wear them in high risk places, such as gyms, bars and restaurants.


*This story was corrected on 28 June 2021, to clarify the number of locations of interest.

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