Huge bungle exposed in the trans-Tasman bubble after a traveller flew from the Cook Islands to Perth via Auckland without quarantining in New Zealand first
- Passenger from Cook Islands flew to Perth without quarantining in NZ first
- People on the Air NZ flight allowed to disembark as Cook Islands has zero cases
- Three trans-Tasman travel bubble breaches have been reported in four days
The Western Australia Health Department and Air New Zealand confirmed the Cook Islander did not quarantine in Auckland prior to her flight to Perth, despite her being required to.
She arrived on Air New Zealand flight NZ175 at 1.30pm Perth time on Friday and was transported to a quarantine hotel in the city.
A series of breaches of the trans-Tasman travel bubble have put quarantine-free travel between Zealand and Australia at risk – including one case where a woman from overseas flew from Auckland to Perth without first going into quarantine
She will stay there for 14 days and undergo mandatory Covid tests.
‘We have been made aware of a passenger on board NZ175 Auckland-Perth today who is ineligible for quarantine-free travel to Australia,’ a statement from Air NZ said.
The airline said it was working with WA authorities and the next steps were up to them.
A WA Health spokesperson confirmed the passenger should have quarantined in NZ before flying – although the Cook Islands has recorded no positive Covid cases.
‘The Department of Health is aware of a woman from the Cook Islands who arrived from Auckland to Perth today without spending two weeks in quarantine in New Zealand,’ it said in a statement.
But because ‘it is very unlikely the passenger could have COVID-19’, passengers were allowed to disembark in the usual manner.
Passengers were not tested for Covid-19 or told to self-isolate until they returned a negative test.
Passengers at Sydney airport head towards their quarantine-free flights to New Zealand
‘Use of PPE and cleaning at Perth Airport and on the plane today are standard practice,’ WA Health said.
The breach comes after two passengers from Papua New Guinea – considered a high risk location for Covid-19 – mixed with travellers before their quarantine-free flights to NZ from Brisbane airport.
One of the two PNG nationals later tested positive for Covid-19, leading to a requirement for all casual contacts who came near the man to self-isolate until they returned a negative test.
Passengers from Brisbane airport on Qantas and Air NZ headed to NZ were asked to self-isolate in NZ after poetntially coming into contact with a positive Covid case in the airport
Authorities believe 390 people from three Air NZ and Qantas flights from Brisbane to Auckland and Christchurch were potentially affected – although the likely number of people in the vicinity of the PNG passengers was smaller.
The incident was considered a ‘green zone breach’, as PNG is a red zone or high risk country while the New Zealand is a low risk country.
The trans-Tasman bubble allows for quarantine-free travel between the green zone nations of Australia and New Zealand.
Before that breach, a Perth man flew to Auckland while his hometown was in lockdown on Tuesday.
NZ authorities later said he should not have flown.