Australia on Monday barred quarantine-free travel for air passengers from New Zealand for 72 hours due to anxieties about a case of a more transmittable variant of the novel coronavirus discovered there. Since October, people have been able to fly from New Zealand to Australia without any quarantine, if they had been in New Zealand for 14 days or more and not been in a named hotspot. However, New Zealand on Sunday said it was struggling to check any possible community transmission of coronavirus after a woman who had recently left quarantine tested positive.
Authorities were later able to verify that the woman had been affected with a highly infectious variant of the disease first discovered in South Africa. There has been no known community spreads in the country since November, with all recorded cases being in visitors from abroad. The woman diagnosed with the virus had returned to New Zealand from Europe on December 30 and tested positive on Saturday after finishing the mandatory 14-day supervised isolation in Auckland and returning home. The woman tested negative for the virus twice during her confinement but revealed symptoms of the illness on her return home to Northland on New Zealand’s North Island.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt stated that people should reconsider their need to travel and also 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.