Sydney, Australia, Jul 23 (EFE).- New Zealand on Friday announced a suspension of its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for at least eight weeks due to the Covid-19 outbreak spreading in the neighboring country.
The suspension was to start at 11.59pm on Friday night.
“There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown. The health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.
The travel bubble became operational in April, although the authorities of both countries reserved the possibility of suspending it completely or partially in the event of new outbreaks.
Ardern said that New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and their families and those on temporary visas, will still be allowed to return to the country for a week but will have to present a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test result.
Those who have been in New South Wales state, the epicenter of the outbreak in Australia, will also have to quarantine for two weeks, and those coming from Victoria will have to self-isolate and take a day-three test.
Around half of Australia’s more than 25 million inhabitants, including residents of the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, are under strict lockdown in the wake of an outbreak linked to the highly contagious Delta variant.
Despite the restrictions, regional health authorities on Friday announced 136 new local infections and one death in New South Wales, under lockdown until July 30, and 14 local infections in Victoria, which is confined until July 27.
South Australia, where one new infection was recorded on Friday, is also under lockdown until July 27.
Australia, which has relied on swift, tough lockdowns to contain virus outbreaks, has recorded more than 32,500 cases and 916 deaths since the start of the pandemic. EFE