New Zealand has extended the suspension of quarantine-free travel with Australia for another eight weeks, extending the so-called travel bubble between the two nations as they deal with new outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus's Delta strain.
As the infectious Delta strain spread over Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, quarantine-free travel was banned on July 23, just weeks after it was implemented. On September 24, the suspension was set to terminate.
The virus-free streak in New Zealand came to an end soon after, when a Delta variety smuggled from Australia caused an outbreak in the country's largest metropolis, Auckland, forcing a national lockdown last month.
While the rest of the country has reopened, Auckland remains closed.
“We've made significant progress in containing the current outbreak, and we're working hard to relax restrictions next week. In a statement, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins argued that reopening quarantine-free travel with Australia at this time could jeopardize such advances.
Hipkins stated that the administration would reconsider its decision in the middle to end of November.
On Friday, New Zealand reported only 11 new cases of COVID-19, indicating that the outbreak, which has resulted in 1,007 infections, is under control.
According to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the country is on the verge of eradicating Delta.
Early next year, the country plans to reopen its borders in stages.
The government has been chastised for a slow vaccine rollout, which exposed a large population to the Delta outbreak. Ardern's tough lockdowns and international border closures helped contain COVID-19. Still, the government has been chastised for a slow vaccine rollout, which exposed a large portion of the population to the Delta outbreak.
The immunization campaign has now been stepped up, with Spain and Denmark providing more vaccine doses.
Even though the country's second-largest state reported the second-highest daily surge in new COVID-19 infections this year, Australia has been speeding up its immunization drives, and the government has promised more freedoms for vaccinated residents.