Australia’s coronavirus travel bubble with New Zealand will recommence on Sunday, the Department of Health has announced.
In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, the department said “green zone” flights from New Zealand could resume at 12.01am on Sunday, subject to some conditions.
“The AHPPC monitors the situation in many locations and will continue to advise on a range of decisions in the interest of the health of all Australians,” said the chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly.
“These decisions are not easy and we do not take them lightly – and all AHPPC members appreciate the ongoing patience and flexibility of Australians and New Zealanders, including those in the tourism and travel industry.
“We will continue to move quickly to protect Australians as circumstances change, but we will always endeavour to move just as quickly when those situations are brought under control, or otherwise resolve.”
The bubble was suspended following an outbreak of the UK variant of Covid-19 in Auckland.
While green-zone flights will resume on Sunday, all passengers who have been in Auckland will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test until 1 March 2021.
Confirmation the travel bubble would recommence followed news Victoria had recorded no new local Covid-19 cases, with the state’s residents beginning the first weekend since the end of their third lockdown.
The result came as NSW Health revealed fragments of the virus that causes Covid had been detected at a sewage network site at Auburn in Sydney’s west.
In Victoria, there were no new local or overseas-acquired cases uncovered on Friday, with more than 17,700 tests conducted. Just 25 active cases remain in the state.
A positive case linked to Melbourne’s coronavirus outbreak had been transferred to the ICU. The patient, who is part of the Holiday Inn cluster, was in a stable condition, according to Victoria’s health department. The cluster now numbers 22.
A family of three on Thursday tested positive, more than a week after two of them stayed at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne airport.
The state’s health minister, Martin Foley, on Friday confirmed one of the parents and child stayed at the quarantine hotel after returning from overseas in early February.
The whole family began isolating at home on 7 February, after it was revealed a staff member at the hotel contracted the virus.
A total of 22 cases have been traced back to another family of three staying on the third floor of the Holiday Inn at the same time. They had contracted the highly infectious UK strain of the virus overseas.
Authorities believe the outbreak began when one of the family members used a nebuliser medical device that caused the virus to spread through the air.
Fears it would spread into the community led to a five-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown, which ended on Thursday.
New South Wales recorded no new locally acquired and one new overseas-acquired case of Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. There were 16,422 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 16,970.
NSW Health said everyone in the Auburn sewage catchment should monitor for symptoms, and if they appear get tested and isolate immediately until they receive a negative result.
This catchment takes sewage from the suburbs of Condell Park, Bankstown, Potts Hill, Birrong, Sefton, Bass Hill, Chester Hill, Regents Park, Chullora, Homebush West, Strathfield, Rookwood, Sydney Olympic Park, Newington, Granville, Clyde, Lidcombe, Auburn, South Granville, Guildford, Silverwater, Rosehill, Berala and Yagoona.
NSW Health is treating 22 Covid-19 cases, none of whom are in intensive care. Saturday marks 34 days with no locally acquired cases.
On Saturday Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said the state’s citizens should remain vigilant due to “unexpected wastewater detections in recent days”.
“[From] 13-15 February, parts of Bayswater and other areas have had a detection,” he said. “Over 1-16 February, St Kilda East, Caulfield North, Caulfield, Balaclava and Elsternwick a detection and for Carrum Downs, Langwarrin and Skye, detections for a second consecutive day.
“There’s no obvious connection between the locations and known cases, so we ask anyone who lived in, or visited these areas, to be vigilant for the mildest of symptoms and get tested.”
Foley told reporters on Saturday the further easing of restrictions would be considered on Friday.
While the Holiday Inn Melbourne airport cluster was “far from being over”, he said, the numbers indicated it was “increasingly under control”.
“We are still approaching that outbreak with the utmost vigilance and caution, and we are still prepared for the possibility of more locally acquired cases,” Foley said.
“The numbers are positive and are reinforcing that we are getting on top of this, but it’s not over until we get out the other side of the day 11 and day 14 testing of those 3,000 people.”
In Victoria, Austin Health, Monash Health and Western Health hospitals have been chosen to distribute the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Foley said workers who were most likely to come into direct contact with people who could have coronavirus would be first in line for the jab.
This included hotel quarantine workers, airport and port workers, high-risk frontline health staff and aged care staff and residents.
The federal government has allocated 12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Victoria in the first week of the program.
About 59,000 doses are expected in the first four weeks.
Six other hospitals will also become vaccination hubs as more jabs become available. They are Albury-Wodonga Health, Ballarat Health, Barwon Health, Bendigo Health, Goulburn Valley Health and Latrobe Health.
• Australian Associated Press contributed to this report