No decision on whether to extend ban due to ‘evolving situation’


Australia has not decided whether to extend a ban on quarantine-free travel from New Zealand in the face of a “rapidly evolving” COVID-19 situation across the Tasman.

The government has temporarily forced arrivals from New Zealand into 14 day quarantine, after a woman tested positive to the highly-infectious South African strain after leaving isolation.

New Zealand authorities confirmed the woman had travelled to around 30 venues while carrying the strain.

The country confirmed another two cases of the strain on Wednesday, both linked to the original infection.

The green zone arrangement, allowing arrivals from New Zealand to avoid quarantine in Australia, was suspended for 72-hours on Monday.

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But acting chief medical officer Michael Kidd said the government would wait on further information before deciding whether to extend the suspension on Thursday.

“The situation is evolving rapidly. We will be following up the details of both of these cases with the New Zealand authorities once further details, including the results of additional testing, are known,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“We need to wait until we hear further details from our colleagues in New Zealand about further tests which are being carried out.

“We do expect that it is likely that both of these people would have had tests carried out during their 14 days in quarantine, but again we need to wait and get those results.”

Australia has confirmed ten days without a case of community transmission. The country’s longest stretch without a community transmission infection was 12 days in December.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was “disappointed” by the suspension on Tuesday, claiming the situation was “well under control”.

She refused to be drawn on whether the move was an over-reaction, but warned a travel bubble could not be sustained if it was subject to suspensions at short-notice.

It comes as Parliament House underwent an emergency deep clean after revelations a group of tourists from a Western Sydney hotspot toured the building.

A group of roughly 25 travelled to Canberra despite the ACT listing the Cumberland Local Government area as a hotspot, according to Channel 7.

Dr Kidd confirmed he was aware of the report, which had been referred to the Australian Federal Police and ACT health authorities.

Politicians will return to the building on Monday for the first sitting week of the year.



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