Australia has suspended travel with New Zealand after a person tested positive for the South African Covid variant.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the suspension will last for 72 hours, after the variant of Covid-19 was detected in a woman after 14 days of isolation.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Monday all passengers from New Zealand with a flight scheduled in the next 72 hours should reconsider their need for travel.
"They will, as a consequence, have to go into hotel quarantine, or some such other arrangements as individual states may implement, for up to 14 days, but for a minimum of 72 hours and to have a test," Mr Hunt said.
Mr Hunt also urged anyone who has arrived in Australia from New Zealand by plane on or since January 14 to get a test and isolate, until they receive a negative result.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said the South African variant was "more transmissible and presents a heightened level of risk".
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has spoken with Scott Morrison about the border changes.
“I was advised late this afternoon of Australia’s decision by the Prime Minister,” Ardern said of the border closure, according to 1 NEWS.
“I advised him that we have confidence in our systems and processes, but it is Australia’s decision as to how they manage their borders."
Since October last year, New Zealanders have been able to come to Australia without having to complete 14 days in hotel quarantine, given they had been in New Zealand for 14 days or more and not been to a designated hotspot.
Woman’s husband tests negative for virus
It was revealed on Sunday by NZ health authorities that a woman aged in her 50s had tested positive for the variant of Covid-19 after completing the mandatory 14 days in quarantine.
The 56-year-old Northland woman returned two negative tests while in quarantine and was released on January 13.
The woman then travelled around the region with her husband.
On Monday, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Minister, Chris Hipkins said two of the woman’s closest contacts, her husband and her hairdresser, had tested negative for the virus.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said all of the woman’s 15 close contacts are self-isolating.
Mr Hipkins praised scientists for a round-the-clock genomic sequencing effort which confirmed the strain as the South African variant.
This was the same strain as another infected arrival staying on the same floor at the Pullman Hotel, giving confidence the infection took place between the pair, without a missing link.
Mr Hunt praised the woman’s actions while she was out in the community after being released from quarantine.
"We understand they behaved in a model way," he told reporters on Monday.
"They used QR codes, they checked in. That is precisely because they left a digital footprint in many places that there's a period of concern.”
He also added Australia has been “very happy” with its work with New Zealand amid the pandemic, adding the contact tracing there is among the best in the world.
"There have been challenges,” he said.
“They are one of the world's best contact tracing systems. They are doing outstandingly well.”
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