New Zealand NZ sweats on COVID test results after Sydney man’s visit

NZ sweats on COVID test results after Sydney man’s visit

sydney covid wellington
The man and his wife visited NZ's national museum, Te Papa, and cafes and restaurants across Wellington. Photo: Getty
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New Zealand officials have lengthened a ban on travel from NSW and won’t rule out further border closures as they wait for more COVID test results in Wellington.

New Zealand hasn’t had community transmission of COVID-19 since February, an 118-day run that is under threat after Wellington played host to a traveller from Sydney who tested positive for the virus on his return home.

The man and his partner wined and dined across the capital, visiting restaurants and the national museum, Te Papa.

The visit – which has been dubbed the “Sydneysider Scare” – in NZ has prompted thousands to isolate and get tested, and the government to enforce new restrictions on movement and gatherings.

So far, in 6000 Wellington tests since the visit, none have returned positive.

“Obviously I’m encouraged by what we’re seeing but it’s still quite early,” COVID-19 Chris Hipkins said on Friday.

The NZ government will hold a virtual cabinet meeting on Sunday, after two more days of test results, to decide on any possible lockdown or new restrictions.

“We will be looking for the [wastewater] test results from Wednesday and Thursday this week, we should have those back by Sunday,” director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

“We’re not out of the woods and we need people to be tested.”

Quarantine-free travel has been suspended from NSW until at least July 7.

As the Sydney cluster seeped into Melbourne, with two new cases returning to the city from a party, Mr Hipkins said NZ would be vigilant about Australian cases and extend trans-Tasman border closures if needed.

Meanwhile, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has postponed a planned trip to Australia at the start of July. Ms Ardern was to lead a trade and business delegation to several Australian cities, but the trip has been put off until later in 2021.

-with AAP