31 May 2021

Covid-19 update: Nearly half of Melbourne travellers sought for testing return negative results

1:44 pm on 31 May 2021

Nearly half of the group that is being sought for testing in New Zealand after arriving from Melbourne Airport, during the period the state discovered a community outbreak of cases, have tested negative for Covid-19 so far.

Disease cell of Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak and coronaviruses influenza background, infectious virus. SARS, 3D render

Photo: 123rf.com

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said there was one new case in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities today. The person arrived into MIQ from India via Qatar on 28 May.

There were no community cases reported.

All but 13 travellers of the 4539 people who flew from Melbourne Airport to New Zealand between 20-25 May have been contacted. The ministry has asked these travellers to self-isolate and get tested, and remain in isolation until they get a negative test due to a community outbreak of cases in the Australian state of Victoria.

The outstanding people have been referred to "people-finding services", the ministry said.

The ministry said 2237 travellers and 178 air crew who came from Melbourne had returned negative tests, representing about 49.3 percent of the group sought.

The remaining test results are expected to be received today and are expected to be reported on tomorrow.

"It's important to note that not everyone in this group will be tested in New Zealand as some are infants and others have already returned to Australia," the ministry said.

All of these travellers are being instructed to get a test and self-isolate at home or in the accommodation they are staying in until they have a negative result.

Anyone who has been in Victoria since 11 May needs to keep checking the locations of interest. If they have been at a location of interest, they should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for further.

All testing for people who have been in Melbourne is free, regardless of whether or not people are symptomatic and including visitors to the country.

Under the law, travellers wanting to return to Melbourne are not permitted to do so until they have returned a negative test result.

Over in Victoria, where the outbreak has caused the suspension of the quarantine-free travel bubble between the state and New Zealand, five new community cases were picked up in the past 24 hours.

The variant of Covid-19 being found in Melbourne is the B.1.617.1 variant which was first reported in India. It is considered more infectious than the original variant.

The typical symptoms to look out for include:

  • a new or worsening cough
  • fever (at least 38˚C)
  • shortness of breath
  • a sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell.

Some people may present with atypical symptoms, with or without typical symptoms. These include new onset of:

  • fever
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • myalgia (muscle pain)
  • nausea/vomiting
  • confusion/irritability

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Morning Report Australia and New Zealand wanted to expand the travel bubble and were talking of ways to do so safely.

"Vaccine passports for the likes of the EU are a very different proposition than they are for us because we know that people who are vaccinated in Australia and New Zealand ... can still become infected with Covid-19," she said, adding the countries were waiting on data as to how infectious a person would be.

She said most countries were using vaccine passports as a way to minimise risk.

"For us, we have very little tolerance for risk because we don't coexist with Covid-19."

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