New Zealand halts travel from Victoria over Covid outbreak

·News Editor
·3-min read

New Zealand's government has pulled up the drawbridge to Victoria amid five new Covid community cases in the Australian state.

On Tuesday afternoon, New Zealand Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said a three-day suspension would take effect from 8pm (local time).

"The government understands the disruption this will temporarily cause affected passengers. It was a close call but the correct one given the current unknowns," Mr Hipkins said.

"An epidemiological link has yet to be determined between these cases and there is currently no known link between people in the current outbreak and any of the exposure sites from Wollert."

An image of a Qantas plane's tail.
Flights to New Zealand from Victoria have been suspended. Source: Getty Images

The suspension is the third pause since the creation of the trans-Tasman bubble last month.

Jacinda Ardern's government blocked travel from WA and NSW following the discovering of community cases in those states' capital cities.

People in New Zealand who have been in Victoria after May 11 have been asked to monitor for symptoms and check the state's exposure sites. 

Ms Ardern told reporters on Tuesday morning New Zealand's health officials were in contact with Victorian health authorities. 

Four new locally acquired cases were reported in Whittlesea, in Melbourne's north, on Monday. 

Of the four was a man in his 30s, a woman and man both in their 70s, and a pre-school aged child. It is believed they are part of the same family and separated across three households. 

The outbreak grew to five on Tuesday, with a man in his 60s also testing positive for the virus. 

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the man was showing symptoms when he had a business appointment with the man in his 30s who tested positive and transmission likely occurred on May 18. 

Questions over how outbreak emerged

Health authorities have been scrambling to identify how the family contracted the virus, with questions over whether or not it could be linked to an earlier case.

Head of the vaccine and immunisation research group at the Doherty Institute, Professor Terry Nolan, told 3AW radio in Melbourne the new cases were likely linked to a Wollert man who tested positive earlier this month.

“I hope it is linked and I hope we haven’t found another cluster or another chain that has been quietly cooking away there in the background," Professor Nolan told 3AW.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton speaks during a press conference in Melbourne.
MVictorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says there could be other undetected cases in the state. Source: Getty

“I think it’s more likely than not it will be connected, but it may not be, so brace yourself everyone.”

The fifth case reported has not identified any link to exposure sites from the Wollert infection and Professor Sutton also warned there could be other cases out there.

"It is possible there is another missing link," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"We do have to conduct an interview with case five today and if there is an identified crossover with an exposure site it would be reassuring but there may be other cases out there."

with AAP

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