Australia has extended the suspension of quarantine-free travel for travellers arriving from New Zealand for at least another 72 hours, in response to new community cases of Covid 19 in Auckland and Northland.

Australia’s acting chief medical officer Michael Kidd delivered the news in a press conference today.

“Based on this updated information from New Zealand, including that [original case] there have been an additional 2 cases of Covid-19 in the community in New Zealand, and all being the [more contagious] variant of concern, the HPPC has recommended that the Commonwealth extend the pause for a further 72 hours,” he said.

This suspension of “Green Zone” travel conditions will continue until 4PM NZDT on Sunday, 31 January.

Anyone arriving in Australia from New Zealand since Monday has been required to quarantine for at least 14 days in an isolation facility.

Kidd said the HPPC were advised by their New Zealand counterparts that the three community cases from the Pullman MIQ facility were genomically linked and were all of the more virulent South African strain.

“This new variant is more transmissible and so presents a heightened level of risk.”

Kidd also extended advice to anyone who arrived in the country from New Zealand since 9 January (but before the quarantine requirements came into place) to isolate and remain in isolation until they get a negative Covid result.