25 Feb 2021

NSW, Victoria and Queensland restrict travel from NZ in face of Auckland outbreak

6:57 am on 25 February 2021

Australia's eastern states have imposed fresh restrictions on New Zealand travellers in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland.

Melbourne Airport.

Victoria has limited quarantine-free travel over the cases linked to Auckland's Papatoetoe High School. Photo: 123RF

Last night Air New Zealand cancelled an Auckland to Brisbane flight while passengers were boarding after Queensland changed its border rules] and today's Auckland to Sydney flight NZ113 is also being cancelled.

NSW, Victoria and Queensland have limited quarantine-free travel over the cases linked to Auckland's Papatoetoe High School.

New Zealand health officials say there is nothing to indicate a need to raise alert levels over the outbreak. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said yesterday the latest Auckland cases were not a separate incursion of the virus and the outbreak essentially involved three families.

NSW Health said it was contacting travellers who arrived from New Zealand since Saturday, and, as a precaution, those people should get tested and isolate until they get a negative result.

The state has classified Auckland as a hotspot, which mean travellers who have been in the city, including the airport, will be required to complete 14 days of quarantine upon arrival in Australia.

Victorian authorities have classified Auckland as a "red zone", which means anyone arriving in Victoria from Auckland will have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days from Thursday.

Those who arrived in Victoria from Tuesday need to get a Covid-19 test immediately and quarantine until they get a negative result.

Earlier on Wednesday Queensland removed New Zealand's "safe travel country" designation. All arrivals to the state had to quarantine from Wednesday night.

Anyone who arrived in Queensland from New Zealand since 6 February has been asked to get tested and isolate until they have a negative result.

"New Zealand is working very hard to contain this community transmission, but they are still in a critical stage of their response so we need to keep watching closely," said Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.

"Acting with an abundance of caution has kept Queenslanders safe and that's exactly the path we will continue to take."

The changes come just three days after quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders entering Australia resumed amid fears that the South African strain of coronavirus was circulating there in January.

In easing restrictions on Saturday, Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the recent cases identified there posed a low risk of Covid-19 spreading in Australia.

"We will continue to move quickly to protect Australians as circumstances change, but we will always endeavour to move just as quickly when those situations are brought under control, or otherwise resolve," Professor Kelly said at the time.

There were no new community cases reported in New Zealand on Wednesday.


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