The coronavirus cluster in Melbourne has now grown to nine — as we reported this morning, the number originally stood at five — and in a surprise to no one, our Antipodean neighbours have paused the Trans-Tasman bubble again.
The pause, which is initially only occurring for 72 hours, will begin this evening, Tuesday, May 25. It only applies to Victoria, currently. New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, said the travel pause would remain under “constant review” — as it has with previous pauses.
“While the case announced today is not unexpected as a contact of a case announced yesterday, New Zealand officials have assessed that the most cautious option is to pause the travel bubble with Victoria as there are still several unknowns with the outbreak.
“The government understands the disruption this will temporarily cause affected passengers. It was a close call but the correct one given the current unknowns.”
As reported in The Australian, the Response Minister says anyone who is currently in New Zealand who had been to one of the exposure locations listed on the Victoria Health website needs to contact Healthline as soon as possible — from whom they’ll receive both testing and isolation advice.
Anyone who has visited Melbourne since May 11 does not need to go to such extremities, but they have been asked to monitor symptoms and seek advice if they develop.
For those on this side of the Trans-Tasman bubble? Melbournites, you’re being asked to wear face masks — and there are strict fines in place if you’re caught not wearing them. It’s not particularly surprising that there are random clusters now and then; until we’re vaccinated, they’ll continue to happen and continue to be a concern. But there are definitely ways we can reduce the frequency.
The current cluster outbreak also proves the importance of QR codes — as contact tracers look to find direct links — and there are even now arguments being made for enforcing them on public transport.