New Zealand confirms airport virus case, travel bubble unaffected

WELLINGTON (AFP) – New Zealand authorities revealed an Auckland airport worker had tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, although Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would not affect a newly opened travel bubble with Australia.

Confirmation the cleaner at New Zealand’s largest airport had contracted the virus came barely 24 hours after the transport hub hosted joyful scenes as families reunited following the launch of the quarantine-free bubble.

Ardern said the cleaner worked on planes arriving from “red zone” countries deemed high risk, not Australia, which like New Zealand has largely contained the virus.

She said both Australia and New Zealand expected to handle border cases, and had systems in place to do that without closing the long-awaited travel bubble.

“We accept there will be cases and that is part of our journey together, for both sides,” she told reporters.

Ardern played down concerns the cleaner contracted the virus despite being fully vaccinated, pointing out the Pfizer jab used in New Zealand was 95 per cent effective in reducing symptomatic onset of coronavirus.

Families are reunited as travellers arrive on the first flight from Sydney in Wellington. PHOTO: AFP