24 Apr 2021

Covid-19: 'Low' risk to NZ from Perth case - Health Ministry

2:25 pm on 24 April 2021

The risk to New Zealand from the Covid-19 situation in Perth is low, says the Ministry of Health, which is closely monitoring the case across the Tasman.

A cyclist rides along a deserted walkway in the normally busy Elizabeth Quay area in Perth on January 31, 2021,

Perth is in a three-day snap lockdown after the community case Photo: AFP

People in Perth and the outer-metropolitan area of Peel woke to the first morning of the three-day Covid-19 lockdown.

The Western Australian city went into lockdown after a man from Victoria tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving a quarantine hotel in Perth at the end of 14 days isolation. The virus was passed on to another person and there are several locations of interest including a Qantas flight to Melbourne.

Quarantine-free travel between Western Australia and New Zealand has been suspended.

In a statement this afternoon - where it also revealed there were no community cases in New Zealnd today - the Ministry of Health said officials remained in contact with their Australian counterparts and were "closely monitoring the situation".

"Both countries have planned for this type of scenario and are following agreed Trans-Tasman bubble protocols.

"Last night a risk assessment was completed by New Zealand Health authorities and the current risk to New Zealand has been assessed as low. Updates will be provided if there are any changes to the current risk assessment or advice."

About 1000 passengers who arrived in New Zealand on direct flights from Perth on 19, 21 and 23 April were being contacted by the Ministry.

It also said anybody who was in Terminal 1 of Melbourne Airport between 7.00pm - 7.30pm on 21 April should stay at home or in the accommodation they are staying in, get a test five days after your exposure and contact Healthline.

"Passengers flying to New Zealand from other Australian states will be required to complete pre-departure and arrival declarations advising whether they have been in Perth or Peel since 17 April, and whether they have visited any of the current locations of interest.

"If people have been to a location of interest they should stay at home, or in their accommodation, and get a test."

Air New Zealand cancelled its flight from Perth to Auckland yesterday.

In a statement this afternoon, Air New Zealand chief operating officer Carrie Hurihanganui said Flight NZ6060 will operate from Perth to Auckland this afternoon with aircrew only.

"None of the crew on this service have been in locations of interest in Perth, therefore they are not required by the Ministry of Health to isolate on arrival in New Zealand.

One flight from Auckland to Perth tomorrow will operate as normal with customers and cargo, while the return flight will be cargo only.

Two flights from Auckland to Perth and back again on Monday have been delayed until Tuesday, subject to the lifting of the Perth lockdown, said Hurihanganui.

"Customers on impacted flights are being given the option to rebook, put their flight into credit, or receive a refund if they have purchased a refundable ticket."

People wait in line to be tested for Covid-19 at Royal Perth Hospital in Perth on 31 January.

A Covid-19 testing station in Perth. Photo: AFP

The lockdown came into effect at midnight on Friday AWST, and unless there is further community transmission will end at midnight on Monday.

WA Premier Mark McGowan announced the move on Friday afternoon, but fears of a lockdown saw queues forming in supermarkets and liquor stores even before the announcement was made.

The lockdown was initiated after a Victorian man tested positive in Melbourne after completing 14 days of quarantine at Perth's Mercure Hotel.

The 54-year-old man left hotel quarantine on 17 April but did not return to Melbourne until 21 April.

That meant he spent up to five days in the community while infectious.

During his post-quarantine time in Perth the man stayed with a woman with two children in the city's south - she also returned a positive Covid test.

For the length of the Anzac Day long weekend, people in the lockdown areas will only be able to leave home for work, to shop for essentials, for medical or healthcare reasons or for up to one hour of exercise daily.

Masks in public are mandatory, except if you are exercising vigorously, you are in a car with people from the same household or you are a child under 12.

Pubs and restaurants are closed, but are open for takeaway.

Mercure Hotel guest 'concerned' over transmission

Rob Overton, who is currently quarantining at the Mercure Hotel after arriving from Spain on 17 April, said he found the latest developments concerning.

"[I'm] a little bit concerned, I'm over 50 years old," he said.

"I'm worried about my own health. And I've got over a week to go in the hotel."

Earlier this month, WA's Chief Health Officer warned about the high risk hotels like the Mercure presented.

McGowan said there would be a review of which hotels would continue to be used to house international travellers.

He said some could be used for lower-risk travellers.

The Premier confirmed that would be the case for the Mercure, which could house quarantining seasonal workers from Tonga and Vanuatu, considered "extremely low risk" countries.

Anzac Day services around the Perth and Peel regions have been cancelled, with McGowan urging people to take part in driveway dawn services instead.

New Zealand announced a pause on travel with Western Australia due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

A resident in Western Australia said he was facing an anxious wait to see if he can fly out to New Zealand early next week.

Ian Austin's flight was due to take off on Monday night, but he's now facing the possibility that it won't happen, although the flight has not yet been cancelled.

"These last two weeks from work it's all I've been thinking about, getting home and it's just kept me going," he said. "Now to have this, it's sort of like it's been handbraked really."

The New Zealand government said health officials were in contact with their Australian counterparts and were completing a risk assessment.


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