Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Air NZ cancels 28 flights to Australia following cluster in NSW

Wellington's Sky Stadium in Wellington New Zealand Wellington's Sky Stadium in Wellington New Zealand
Ginger Lawrence | 23 June, 2021, 07:11

New Zealand's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told TVNZ that's he's not ruling out restrictions on the city of Wellington after the person visited.

The New South Wales health authority issued an alert about two flights between Wellington and Sydney linked to a Sydney Covid-19 case.

New Zealand's Ministry of Health confirmed on Wednesday morning the traveller tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return to Australia.

Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated, and served by a single person. They were in Wellington from 19 June until 21 June.

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.

"Our customer team is contacting impacted customers and we are providing customers the option to rebook, put their flight into credit, or receive a refund if they purchased a refundable ticket", said Air New Zealand chief operational integrity and safety officer captain David Morgan.

They are Qantas flight QF163 from Sydney to Wellington on Friday June 18, and Air New Zealand's NZ247 on Monday June 21.

"Everything is on the table", he said.

Passengers on a Qantas and an Air NZ flight are being considered close contacts of a Covid-19 case.

Health authorities said the traveler visited Wellington from Saturday through Monday before returning to Australia and testing positive for COVID-19.

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Passengers wearing face masks disembarking from a commuter train at Wellington Railway Station in August.

"We are assuming they were infectious in Wellington".

Potential exposure sites in Wellington Health authorities met this morning to produce a list of places of interest, with the first of number of potential exposure sites in Wellington released.

"The bigger challenge is the contact tracing for this visitor while they were here and we obviously need to know more about the nature of their movement". New Zealanders were on edge Wednesday after health authorities said a coronavirus-infected traveler from Australia had visited the museum and other sites over the weekend.

The Health Ministry spokesman said genome sequencing was now under way in Australia to see if the case was linked to the current outbreak in Sydney.

The temporary suspension of quarantine-free travel from New South Wales to New Zealand is now in place, and will last at least 72 hours. Close contacts are being asked to get tested and isolate for two weeks.

The decision came after NSW announced a community COVID-19 cluster in the Australian state ballooned by another 10 cases on Tuesday. "But we've got a good contact tracing system so hopefully that will be effective", he said.

Local government areas of Wollongong and Shellharbour, which had compulsory masks for public transport, would be subjected to the same mask rules as Sydney.

People who had been at the as-yet-unnamed sites would need to isolate and should contact Healthline for further advice.