New Zealand officials confirmed a case of the highly infectious South African coronavirus variant Monday, the first reported case outside of quarantine facilities in the country in months, prompting officials to trace and cut off the diseases’ potential transmission through the community and forcing Australia to immediately suspend its quarantine-free travel bubble travel.
New Zealand recorded it first Covid-19 case outside of quarantine facilities in months. getty Key Facts
A 56-year-old woman tested positive for the South African variant of Covid-19 after completing a two-week period of quarantine in a hotel where she had tested negative twice, New Zealand officials said Monday.
It is the first reported case of Covid-19 case in New Zealand for months and health minister Chris Hipkins said it is “highly likely” that the woman caught the virus from someone else staying at the quarantine facility.
15 of the woman’s close contacts have been identified and are being contacted, Health Chief Ashley Bloomfield said, adding that her husband and hairdresser, her closest contacts, have tested negative.
The confirmation prompted Australia to immediately pause its quarantine-free travel bubble with the island nation for 72 hours, which health minister Greg Hunt said was done “out of an abundance of caution” given the infectious South African variant and the woman being out in the community.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ that although she has confidence in New Zealand’s disease-controlling measures, “it is Australia’s decision as to how they manage their borders.”