Covid 19 coronavirus: Contact of Sydney case in Christchurch MIQ, travel bubble pause continues

A contact of one of the Covid-19 Sydney cases, who travelled to New Zealand, is currently in a managed isolation facility in Christchurch.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said this afternoon no new locally acquired cases had been identified in NSW since the two cases were identified earlier this week.

There was no further information on the epidemiological link between the community cases and the border case to whom they were genomically linked, she said.

One person has been identified by NSW health authorities as a contact of a case and transferred to a managed isolation facility in Christchurch.

This person attended a “location of interest at the same time as one of the two positive cases recently identified in Sydney”.

“The contact is being tested for Covid-19 and the results will be available by tomorrow,” the spokeswoman said.

“The person is not symptomatic and local public health staff say they have cooperated fully with all requests.”

The Ministry of Health has issued a Section 70 notice, meaning any person who attended the locations of interest in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on the specified dates and times are required to isolate or quarantine at their home, or the accommodation they are staying in, contact authorities and undergo testing as required.

As a precautionary measure, quarantine-free travel from  NSW to New Zealand paused from 11.59pm last night continues.

“This travel pause prevents anyone from travelling to New Zealand from NSW,” the spokeswoman said.

“It also includes anyone who has been in NSW and who plans to depart for New Zealand from another airport eg Brisbane or Melbourne.

“The Ministry of Health will continue to closely monitor the situation in NSW this weekend. Another update on the NSW travel pause will be provided tomorrow.”

So far, 5214 people who have arrived in New Zealand from NSW since Friday last week have been contacted by health authorities and provided with advice.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian called the pause an “overreaction”, but director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield defended the decision, saying it was “the right thing to do”.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced yesterday New Zealand had put a pause on all flights out of New South Wales as the state reported two community cases of coronavirus, just weeks after both nations opened quarantine-free travel across the ditch.

“That, to me, is an overreaction,” Berejiklian said in an interview this morning. “If that’s what the department says they must do, that’s what she [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern] does. But I certainly think the response should also be proportionate to the risk.”

Berejiklian said NSW health officials were working hard to “stop a super spreading event” with a slate of new restrictions in Greater Sydney over the next three days to minimise the chances of further cases spreading.

Addressing criticism of the decision, Bloomfield told Newstalk ZB he and other health officials had put a lot of thought into pausing the bubble before it was announced publicly.

The pause for the next 48 hours was put in place so authorities could watch to see what further results come out of Sydney.

Hipkins said the risk was low, even though about 6000 people had flown into New Zealand from NSW since the Sydney cases emerged.

While the eastern state has not gone into lockdown, restrictions have been put in place, including compulsory masks in indoor venues and gatherings limited to 20 people.

Genome sequencing has linked the index case, a man in his 50s, to a traveller who arrived from the US, and who was moved to a quarantine facility on April 28.

One of the man’s household contacts, a woman in her 50s, returned a positive test yesterday.

But it remains unclear how they caught the virus, meaning there could be several links in the chain of transmission between them and the traveller who might still be in the community without knowing they have the virus.

Neither the man nor the woman had recently travelled overseas, worked in a hotel quarantine, border or health role, or came into contact with someone who did.

Today the ministry said New Zealand officials remained in contact with their Australian counterparts after the confirmation of two positive cases of Covid-19 in Sydney.

The pause to the transtasman bubble is limited to flights from NSW, and began at midnight.

At this stage, the risk remained low, said the ministry.

Today the Ministry of Health reported no new cases of Covid-19 in the community but one in managed isolation.

The latest case came from the United Arab Emirates and arrived here on April 24. The person tested positive on day 12 during routine testing at an Auckland managed isolation facility.

It means there are now 26 active cases in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, all 32 people in New Zealand who had self-identified as being in a location of interest after the Brisbane Airport green zone breach have now been followed up. Of these, 25 have returned negative test results. Two people have returned to Australia, and health authorities had assessed the remaining five people and advised that they did not require any further action.

The ministry said any remaining passengers who weren’t at the locations of interest at the specified times previously advised should continue monitoring their health and if symptoms develop, call Healthline and get a test.

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