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Trans-Tasman bubble yet to pop after NZ airport case

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Australian health authorities are “watching New Zealand” but the trans-Tasman bubble is yet to pop from a new community COVID-19 case in Auckland.

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New Zealand’s Ministry of Health announced the new case on Tuesday afternoon (NZST), just a day after New Zealand dropped quarantine requirements for Australian travellers.

There is a clear link to a possible infection source: the person cleans planes that have taken “red zone” flights from high-risk countries,

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the new case shouldn’t impact trans-Tasman travel arrangements.

“These are the kind of scenarios where we would anticipate movement continuing,” she said.

“Our Minister of Health has kept in touch with his counterpart. They’re directly communicating and so are our officials.”

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said the panel charged with decision-making around COVID-19 had confidence in NZ’s management of the virus

“The advice I have from the Chief Medical Officer who had been in a meeting with the … Australian Health Protection Principal Committee today is that they’re watching New Zealand, but they have high confidence that New Zealand has this in train,” he said.

“We’ve seen them deal with the inevitable outbreaks and there will be other days when there are cases in Australia.

“We know how to deal with this. New Zealand knows how to deal with this.”

The fresh case came a day after emotional scenes at Kiwi airports as thousands of people took advantage of the trans-Tasman bubble to visit loved ones.

Under the terms of the bubble agreement, Australian states and territories and New Zealand can suspend quarantine-free travel with places that have outbreaks.

So far, there are few signs that a bubble-bursting outbreak will occur.

New Zealand health authorities spent Tuesday interviewing the person, identifying 16 close contacts and three places of interest – all retail centres in Auckland.

The person’s five household contacts have all been tested, and have all returned negative results.

Ardern said the person was fully vaccinated – receiving two doses of the Pfizer vaccine – and tested positive during mandated weekly testing for Kiwi border workers.

-with AAP

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