Contact of Sydney case taken to MIQ, travel bubble pause continues

While temperatures are set to cool in South Australia and Victoria on Sunday, NSW's eastern and...
The pause for the next 48 hours was put in place so authorities could watch to see what further results come out of Sydney.
A contact of one of the Covid-19 Sydney cases, who travelled to New Zealand, is currently in a managed isolation and quarantine facility in Christchurch.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said this afternoon there were no new locally-acquired cases have been identified in NSW since the two cases were identified earlier this week. There is no further information on the epidemiological link between the community cases and the border case to whom they are genomically linked.

The Government is set to provide an update on its decision to pause a travel bubble with Sydney after two positive Covid cases were confirmed there affecting thousands of travellers.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian called it 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.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris 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.

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