Just two days into the new AUS/NZ travel bubble an Auckland, New Zealand airport worker who was responsible for cleaning incoming aircraft has tested positive for the Coronavirus.
The man has previously received both vaccine doses as per New Zealand authorities and is currently being treated according to health protocols.
This doesn’t bode well for the plan to keep travel going between the two countries even though at the moment both governments are trying to put the best face on it and try to calm people down.
News about this broke this morning when The Guardian reported about it.
A New Zealand airport worker has tested positive for Covid-19, just one day after the country opened a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia. The border worker is employed at Auckland airport, the largest and busiest airport in New Zealand.
Speaking to the press, the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the worker had been fully vaccinated early in the rollout, and had tested positive as part of routine screening. She said the worker cleaned planes coming in from “red zone”, or high-risk countries, and “all signs point” to this case having no connection to new Australian arrivals.
The Australian health minister, Greg Hunt, indicated the case was highly unlikely to affect the newly minted travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.
Hunt told reporters that Australian authorities had “full confidence in New Zealand’s system”, which was dealing with an “inevitable outbreak” with “highly developed containment systems”.
New Zealand airports are separated into red and green zones. The red zones deal with all international flights, where passengers are directed into managed isolation and quarantine. Green zones are used by domestic passengers, as well as those visiting under quarantine-free travel arrangement from Australia, Niue and the Cook Islands.
Ardern said these kinds of cases were to be expected at the border. “We entirely expect that people who are vaccinated will still get Covid-19, it just means that they will not get sick, and they will not die.”
“It is by no means a leaky border,” she said, if someone who cleans a plane that carries people infected with Covid tests positive.
Ardern said these kinds of cases had been anticipated by both the Australian and New Zealand governments when they announced the bubble rules. “The reason this person was part of our surveillance testing is because they were working in an area considered to be high risk,” she said. “They are working on planes coming from countries that are high risk.”
Both Australia and New Zealand knew that when the borders opened there would continue to be cases on both sides: “We accept that it’s going to be part of our journey together.” …
That doesn’t sound very confident at all if you ask me. Especially if they give people who are tasked with janitorial work in apparently dangerous conditions the vaccine, they still can get the virus and will be isolated when tested positive. Would you go to work and clean planes under such conditions?
Also the last paragraph of the article also has something worrisome in it:
If the case is an isolated one, it is unlikely to have any effect on the trans-Tasman bubble. When the bubble was announced, the New Zealand government outlined a “traffic light” system to establish under which circumstances the quarantine-free pathway might close. …
New Zealand officials have previously warned “flyer beware” and that travellers should be cautious, because another outbreak in either country could mean the border would close. “We may have scenarios where travel will shut down one way,” Ardern said earlier this month. “It may therefore leave travellers – for a period of time – stranded on either side of the Tasman.”
Ardern told ABC TV this morning that 1,800 Australians had crossed into New Zealand on Monday.
This means there is definite danger of the borders suddenly slamming shut again. I’d fully expect this and fair enough, that’s the risk one takes when leaving the country (prison island) at the moment.
As John mentioned in a separate article this weekend Australians can now use New Zealand as a gateway to travel outside their region entirely. Once they have left Australia and have arrived in New Zealand they can just as well take an international flight for example to Asia or North America etc.
An airport worker who was on duty to clean planes arriving from “non safe” or “Hot Zone” countries has been diagnosed with Covid-19 despite having received both vaccine doses in the past. Politicians are shrugging it off saying they fully expected this, yet they reserve the right to slam the border doors shut again if cases increase or cause reason for alarm.
Take from this what you want but this looks very fragile. If you’re in Australia and looking to leave the country for whatever purposes I’d probably do so at the earliest convenience before something hits a road block again.