Australia Closes Travel Bubble with New Zealand for 72 Hours over New COVID-19 Case

Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport

New Zealand reported its first case of COVID-19 in months after a traveler recently returned home from Australia, which in turn temporarily shut down its travel bubble with its neighbor.

The traveler, 56, returned to New Zealand on Dec. 30 after leaving a two-week quarantine where she had twice tested negative for the virus, according to Reuters. On Sunday, it was confirmed that the woman had contracted the new strain of the virus that has recently been detected in South Africa.

The travel bubble is suspended for 72 hours starting Monday.

"This will be done out of an abundance of caution whilst more is learned about the event and the case," Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday, Reuters reported.

All travelers from New Zealand who have arrived in Australia since Jan. 14 are required to self-isolate at home until they receive negative COVID-19 test results. All arrivals within the next 72 hours will be required to immediately enter quarantine in a hotel.  

Authorities believe that the woman was likely infected by someone else returning to the country and staying at a quarantine facility. They are investigating whether the virus could have spread through the building's ventilation or air conditioning systems. 

Health authorities located 15 of the woman's close contacts, who were tested for the virus. As of yet, no other community cases of the virus have been reported. 

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ that she had confidence in her country's "systems and processes, but it is Australia's decision as to how they manage their borders." 

New Zealand was one of the countries most successful at containing the spread of COVID-19. This is the first case reported in the country since November. In total, New Zealand reported 2,288 confirmed cases of the virus and 25 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. This is one of New Zealand's first cases of COVID-19 in months.

The South African strain of the virus is believed to be about 50% more infectious. It has been reported in at least 20 countries so far. 

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at

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