Daily Bulletin


  • Written by Michael Plank, Professor in Applied Mathematics, University of Canterbury

New Zealand’s government today announced a long-awaited quarantine-free travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia, beginning on April 19.

Provided there is no significant community outbreak in Australia, the risk of New Zealand importing cases of COVID-19 is very low. But should there be a community outbreak across the Tasman, the risk of bringing the virus into New Zealand could escalate rapidly, if travel numbers return to pre-COVID volumes.

This is why it will be critical to act swiftly if this happens.

Responding to a community outbreak

New Zealand and Australia have both had numerous outbreaks of COVID-19 originating from managed isolation facility or other border workers. Frontline border workers are being prioritised for vaccination in both countries, which will reduce the risk of this happening again. But it is still possible — and it’s therefore crucial we have a solid resurgence plan.

The New Zealand response to a new community case in Australia will be based on the same decision making we have seen used in response to community cases here. A new case with a clear link to the border poses a relatively low risk and can usually be managed by contact tracing without the need for restrictions. In this situation, travel could safely continue.

But, as our modelling has shown, a new case with no clear link to the border indicates a higher risk of community transmission and undetected cases. In this scenario, travel from that state would be suspended until the risk diminishes.

graphic to explain how trans-Tasman travel will be managed Unite Against COVID-19 website, CC BY-ND Once travel resumes, travellers may be asked to take a test, to self-isolate at home on return, or to go into managed isolation. New Zealand wouldn’t have sufficient managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) capacity for everyone returning from even a single Australian state. Home isolation is the most likely option under most circumstances. But as long as people do what is asked of them, this will keep the risk of importing COVID-19 from Australia into New Zealand very low. Read more: A year on from the arrival of COVID-19 in NZ: 5 lessons for 2021 and beyond Flyer beware People planning a trip across the Tasman should factor in the possibility of travel disruption before buying tickets. They should have contingency plans if they have to delay travel or self-isolate on return. Unfortunately, “flyer beware” is a reality of international travel during a pandemic. It will also be important that New Zealand and Australian authorities share contact tracing information efficiently if needed and get in touch with people who were potentially exposed prior to travelling. Australian visitors will be asked to install and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand. This will help our health officials trace their contacts should they become infected either before travelling or while in the country. Passengers travelling in the quarantine-free bubble will also use segregated “green-zone” airport facilities and be on separate flights from passengers travelling from the rest of the world. This will prevent exposure to potentially infected travellers in the air and in the airport. Border controls with other countries Crucially, a safe travel bubble relies on both New Zealand and Australia continuing strict border control with other countries that still have community transmission of COVID-19. This will be necessary until we reach high levels of vaccine coverage in New Zealand and the threat from COVID-19 in our community starts to lessen. Removing the requirement for travellers from Australia to quarantine will free up significant capacity in our MIQ facilities. If this capacity were to be filled with people from countries with high rates of COVID-19, it would increase the risk of border-related outbreaks in New Zealand. Vaccinating our MIQ workers mitigates this risk to some extent but doesn’t remove it completely. We therefore welcome the announcement that some of that MIQ capacity will be reserved for relatively low-risk countries or as contingency for people needing to return from a hotspot in Australia. The government should also take this opportunity to consider retiring some facilities, including those that have no exercise space on site or that have proved difficult to manage. These measures would help us manage the overall risk at the border, and could still bring a slight increase in the number of MIQ rooms available to returning New Zealanders. Read more: Eliminating coronavirus will be expensive and difficult – but here's why it's preferable to suppression The opening up of a travel bubble with Australia is a significant milestone in both countries’ pandemic responses. It brings to fruition one of the benefits of the elimination strategy both New Zealand and Australia have successfully pursued. This is possibly the first example in the world of quarantine-free travel between two countries that have eliminated community transmission of COVID-19. It could act as a blueprint for a wider safe travel zone, which other countries that have eliminated COVID-19 may eventually be able to join.

Authors: Michael Plank, Professor in Applied Mathematics, University of Canterbury

Read more https://theconversation.com/a-quarantine-free-trans-tasman-bubble-opens-on-april-19-but-flyer-beware-remains-the-reality-of-pandemic-travel-158423

Writers Wanted

The ebb and flow of COVID-19 vaccine support: what social media tells us about Australians and the jab


Cyclone Seroja just demolished parts of WA – and our warming world will bring more of the same


New Zealand’s new housing policy is really just a new tax package — and it’s a shambles


The Conversation


Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered Keynote Address at AFR Business Summit

Well, thank you all for the opportunity to come and be with you here today. Can I also acknowledge the Gadigal people, the Eora Nation, the elders past and present and future. Can I also acknowled...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Morrison Government commits record $9B to social security safety net

The Morrison Government is enhancing our social security safety net by increasing support for unemployed Australians while strengthening their obligations to search for work.   From March the ...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Ray Hadley's interview with Scott Morrison

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: G’day Ray.   HADLEY: I was just referring to this story from the Courier Mail, which you’ve probably caught up with today about t...

Ray Hadley & Scott Morrison - avatar Ray Hadley & Scott Morrison

Business News

Step by Step Moving Guide for Moving an Office

Compromising office hours, carrying bulk equipment, moving sensitive files — office relocation is no cakewalk. There is so much to do when you want to relocate your office. Aside from the major tas...

News Co - avatar News Co

5 Effective Employee Retention Strategies You Can Apply to Your Organization

Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization. No matter how great you think your company is, without the right talents to keep your business up and running, all your efforts to rise above...

News Co Media - avatar News Co Media

5 Reasons Why Organizational Culture is Crucial to Your Business

You have probably heard a lot about organizational culture and companies finding ways to create a positive culture in the workplace, but not so much about the reasons why it even matters to busine...

News Co Media - avatar News Co Media