NZ airport worker tests positive as travel bubble opens

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she doesn’t anticipate a pop to the trans-Tasman bubble, despite an Auckland Airport worker testing positive to COVID-19.

Apr 20, 2021, updated Apr 20, 2021
Passengers headed to New Zealand wait to check in at Sydney Airport yesterday. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Passengers headed to New Zealand wait to check in at Sydney Airport yesterday. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

The Ministry of Health announced the new community case on Tuesday afternoon (NZST), just a day after New Zealand dropped quarantine requirements for Australian travellers.

Ardern said the person was a cleaner on “red zone” flights from high-risk countries.

The person received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and tested positive as part of mandated weekly testing for Kiwi border workers.

Ardern said it shouldn’t impact trans-Tasman travel arrangements.

“These are the kind of scenarios where we would anticipate movement continuing,” she said.

“Our Minister of Health has kept in touch with his counterpart. They’re directly communicating and so are our officials.”

Monday saw thousands cross the Tasman Sea and enter New Zealand after the long-awaited end of mandatory quarantine for Australian travellers.

Under the terms of the trans-Tasman bubble agreement, Australian states and territories and New Zealand can suspend quarantine-free travel with places that have outbreaks.

In a statement, NZ health authorities said more information would follow later this afternoon.

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“The usual protocol of isolating the case, interviewing them, and tracing their contacts and movements is underway,” the statement read.

Ardern said people should not be surprised that a fully-vaccinated worker tested positive to COVID-19.

“We entirely expect that people who are vaccinated will still get COVID-19,” she said.

“It just means that they won’t get sick and they won’t die. That’s what the vaccine is for.

“The vaccine is 95 per cent effective at reducing symptomatic onset of COVID-19 … it doesn’t mean people won’t get it.”

Ardern also said a vaccinated person with COVID-19 was less likely to spread it in the community.

“One of the things we’re seeing in the early data is it reduces down the likelihood you pass it on to others.”


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