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New Zealand coronavirus lockdown ‘on the table’ after Australian travels while likely infectious

An Australian traveller may send New Zealand’s capital into lockdown after testing positive for COVID-19 on their return from Wellington.

New Zealand health authorities are considering their response after learning of the positive test.

Any new local cases would snap the country’s long streak of more than 100 days without community transmission.

The man travelled to New Zealand last weekend, leaving Sydney on Friday night and heading back on Monday.

The most likely scenario – based on testing and the person’s symptoms – is he caught the virus in Australia and travelled to NZ while contagious.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said officials were considering all responses, including a snap lockdown, saying “everything’s on the table”.

“It’s proven useful in the past for us to not rule anything out,” he told Radio NZ.

“We will be looking at whether other measures might be required. Wider use of masks, potentially any restrictions on gatherings size for a period.

“We will be looking through those options this morning.”

Dr Bloomfield and COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins are due to give a further update at 11am (AEST) on Wednesday.

Four close contacts in New Zealand have already been identified.

“I expect they were friends that the people were visiting or they spent time with here,” Dr Bloomfield said.

Genomic testing will show whether the case is linked to the current Bondi outbreak.

“We don’t know which variant it is. We’ll get information as quickly as possible from our Australian colleagues what the genomic sequencing is,” he said.

“The key thing here is, whatever the variant, the response is the same.”

Wellington locations of interest have been revealed, including Te Papa, the national museum, and sports bar Jack Hackett.

Te Papa has closed on Wednesday in response.

A full list of locations has been published on New Zealand’s Ministry of Health website. Anyone who has visited those places at the same time has been asked to isolate and get tested.

The imported case is likely to heap pressure on the government’s response to the NSW cluster, which has now grown to 21 cases.

New Zealand officials only made the decision to close the trans-Tasman bubble on Tuesday night, in response to a new batch of 10 cases.

Two flights have been identified as potential transmission sites: Qantas QF163, departing Sydney at 7.05pm on Friday June 18 for Wellington, and Air New Zealand NZ247, departing Wellington at 10.13am on Monday June 21 for Sydney.

Source: sbs