Australia has suspended its travel bubble with New Zealand after authorities there revealed a woman tested positive to the highly-infectious South African Covid strain she is believed to have contracted in hotel quarantine.
As Australian notched up its eighth consecutive day without a Covid infection, authorities announced they are suspending arrivals from New Zealand for 72 hours and strengthening airport health screenings after the country’s first infection in months.
Health minister Greg Hunt said the decision to suspend the green zone travel bubble was done so out of ‘an abundance of caution’.
Those scheduled to arrive in the next 72 hours will be put in hotel quarantine, Mr Hunt said, with passengers told to reconsider their need to travel.
Australia has now gone eight days without a locally acquired case of coronavirus as the country continues to successfully manage the virus (pictured, Sydney’s Bondi Beach)
Australia has suspended its green zone travel bubble with New Zealand for 72 hours (pictured, passengers at Wellington International Airport last year)
‘They will, as a consequence, have to go into hotel quarantine, or 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.
‘Anyone who has arrived in Australia on a flight from New Zealand on or since January 14 is asked to isolate and arrange to be tested and to remain in isolation until they have a negative test.’
Australia has not recorded a case of coronavirus in the community since January 17 when six cases were reported in Western Sydney, linked to the Berala BWS cluster.
Eleven cases were recorded in returned travellers in mandatory quarantine on Monday, with three of those in NSW, six in Victoria and two in Queensland.
More than 25,000 tests were processed nationwide.
Health authorities in New Zealand revealed on Sunday a 56-year-old woman had tested positive after completing her 14-day isolation after returning from overseas.
The woman, who had travelled to Spain and the Netherlands before arriving back in the country, was confirmed to have the dangerous South African mutant strain of the virus.
A group of bikini-clad women are seen enjoying the warm temperature on Sunday at St Kilda beach in Melbourne (pictured) as Australia recorded an entire week without a single new coronavirus case
She returned two negative tests while staying at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland and was released on January 13.
‘The source of the infection is highly likely to be a fellow returnee during the person’s stay at the Pullman Hotel,’ Covid recovery minister Chris Hipkins said.
The New Zealand health department released a list of the 31 places she visited on her travels since being released, including supermarkets, cafes and retail stores.
‘Recent green-zone arrivals from New Zealand are being alerted to venues of concern following a probable case of COVID-19 in the country,’ NSW Health said.
‘People who arrived in NSW from New Zealand between Thursday 14 January and Sunday 24 January, have been asked to check these venues of concern and, if they have been to any, to follow the associated health advice.
‘They are also asked to monitor for even the mildest of symptoms and get tested and isolate if they feel unwell, then remain in isolation until a negative result is received – in line with routine advice for everyone in NSW.’
‘Enhanced screening has been taking place at Sydney Airport from Sunday.’
St Kilda Beach in Melbourne was packed over the weekend as the state recorded no community transmission of Covid-19
ALERT FOR 31 VENUES THE INFECTED WOMAN VISITED
FreshChoice Ruakaka Shop 24 Ruakaka Town Centre, 378 Marsden PT Road Ruakaka 14 January 3:03 pm – 4:33 pm
Aesthetic Clothing Store 4 Port Road 15 January 8:48 am – 9:53 am
Noel Leeming Whangarei 4 Port Road Whangarei 15 January 9:02 am – 10:12 am
Bendon Whangarei Shop 12, Okara Shopping Centre4 Port Road Whangarei 15 January 9:03 am – 10:30 am
The Warehouse Whangarei 42 Port Road Whangarei 15 January 9:28 am – 10:58 am
Carpet Court Whangarei 26 Commerce Street Whangarei 15 January 10:00 am – 11:20 am
Flaming Fires 26 Commerce Street Whangarei 15 January 10:24 am – 11:34 am
Kamo Vehicle Testing Station 23 Clark Road, Kamo 15 January 10:40 am – 11:45 am
Bed Bath and Beyond Whangarei 19 Lower Tarewa Road Whangarei 15 January 10:54 am – 12:04 pm
Farmers Whangarei Cnr Bank and Robert Sts, CBD Whangarei 15 January 11:10 am – 12:15 pm
Fat Camel Cafe 12 Quality Street 15 January 11:34 am – 1:34 pm
Parua Bay Tavern 1034 Whangarei Head Road Parua Bay 15 January 3:20 pm – 5:20 pm
Bream Bay Butchers Ruakaka 2/378 Marsden Point Road 16 January 11:02 am – 12:07 pm
Ruakaka General Store 1/378 Marsden Point Road 16 January 11:08 am – 12:10 pm
FreshChoice Ruakaka Shop 24 Ruakaka Town Centre, 378 Marsden PT Road Ruakaka 16 January 11:10 am – 12:15 pm
Urban Remedy Cafe 159 One Tree Point Road 17 January 8:17 am – 9:47 am
Joseph Taylor Homewares 126 Mangawhai Heads Road Mangawhai Heads 17 January 2:08 pm – 3:18 pm
Eutopia Cafe 1955 State Highway 1 18 January 8:55 am – 10:55 am
Maungaturoto 2nd hand shop 30 Hurndall Street East 18 January 10:06 am – 11:36 am
Maungaturoto Four Square 163 Hurndall Street West 18 January 10:44 am – 11:49 am
White Rock Gallery 5 Church Road 18 January 11:15 am – 12:24 pm
The Kauri Museum 5 Church Road RD 1 18 January 11:21 am – 3:21 pm
Gumdiggers Cafe Matakohe 11 Church Road, RD 1, Matakohe 18 January 12:39 pm – 2:39 pm
The Dune Restaurant & Bar 40 Moir Street 18 January 4:47 pm – 7:17 pm
Kaipara Coast Plant Centre & Sculpture Gardens 1481 Kaipara Coast Highway 19 January 11:04 am – 1:04 pm
The Ville Turkish Cafe 25 Commercial Road Helensville 19 January 1:08 pm – 2:38 pm
Countdown Helensville 43 Commercial Road Helensville 19 January 1:46 pm – 3:01 pm
Super Liquor Helensville 26 Commercial Road Helensville 19 January 2:03 pm – 3:08 pm
South Head General Store 3260A South Head Road, RD 1 19 January 2:44 pm – 3:49 pm
Macnut Cafe 914 South Head Road Helensville 21 January 10:20 am – 11:50 am
Orrs Unichem Pharmacy Ruakaka Marsden Point Rd, Town Centre 22 January 11:21 am – 12:26 pm
Western Australia and Tasmania are yet to report their daily coronavirus numbers for Monday but are expected to record zero local cases.
Australia’s run of new new cases comes as other nations continue to buckle under the strain of the virus and its ever changing and increasingly dangerous mutations.
NSW successfully managed to contain the recent Northern Beaches and Berala clusters.
Victoria has gone 19 days without a single community transmission case following fears the Northern Beaches cluster would ruin their long standing streak after it spread across the border.
After enduring a hard three-day lockdown in Greater Brisbane earlier this month, Queensland also recorded zero new cases of Covid-19.
The rest of the country have continued to record no community transmission as the virus is once again under control.
There are currently 123 active cases of coronavirus in Australia.
Beaches around the country were packed over the weekend with restrictions eased weeks ago, in stark comparison to the strict lockdowns experienced across Europe.
A health care worker tests people at a COVID-19 drive through testing clinic at Murarrie in Brisbane, Queensland (pictured) after the state brought its quarantine outbreak under control
The Pfizer vaccine has met strict standards for safety, quality and efficacy, and has been provisionally approved for Australians over 16
Many of Australia’s close partners, including the UK and the US, are recording huge numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths.
The UK on Sunday recorded 30,004 new Covid-19 cases and 610 additional days.
The situation is even more dire in the US, where its Centre for Disease Control predicts there will be 465,000 to 508,000 total COVID-19 deaths by February 13.
So far, 417,910 deaths have been attributed to the deadly respiratory virus.
Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday morning approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
The vaccine met strict standards for safety, quality and efficacy, and has been provisionally approved for Australians over 16.
Millions of Australians will begin being inculcated from next month.
Frontline hotel quarantine staff and health workers will be the first in line to receive the vaccine, followed by aged care employees, seniors, and other vulnerable people.
Two doses will be required – at least 21 days apart. The TGA said provisional approval of the vaccine is valid for two years.
‘The TGA has granted provisional approval to Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd for its Covid-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, making it the first Covid-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia,’ it said.
AUSTRALIA’S CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
Shortly after the World Health Organisation officially declared a pandemic on March 12, Australia initiated a number of strict lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
The borders were closed to all non-residents on March 20 and social distancing rules were introduced.
Anyone arriving from overseas were made to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel funded by the government. This later changed to guests having to pay for their own stay.
Hospitality venues, such as pubs, cafes, restaurants and clubs were forced to close, offering a take away service only.
The rules saw the number of cases drop significantly by April, with fewer than 20 cases reported each day by the end of the month across the whole country, allowing the tougher restrictions to be eased.
A second wave in Victoria in May was brought under control by a strict 112-day lockdown.
Masks are also mandatory on planes across the country, as well as airports.