Coronavirus: New Zealand could be model for world if trans-Tasman travel bubble opens - Michael Baker

A top epidemiologist says New Zealand could be a model for the rest of the world if it opens a travel bubble with Australia.

New data supports a trans-Tasman bubble, and as New Zealand records another day of zero community cases, pressure is mounting on the Government to set a date.

Australia is currently dealing with a new community outbreak after one case in Brisbane had a house gathering with five others, despite being told to isolate while he awaited test results. On Sunday, another close contact tested positive, bringing to total to three.

It's this kind of outbreak that has hindered a trans-Tasman bubble opening. But data confirmed to Newshub by the Ministry of Health reveals that over the nine months to January, just three people arriving in New Zealand from Australia had COVID-19.  That's three out of 23,000.

"Those low numbers of imported numbers from Australia is obviously very encouraging for opening up to quarantine-free travel, but we do have to remember that of course the numbers of travellers will increase considerably once we do open up," says epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker.

He says there would be huge benefits in opening up to low-risk, green zone countries.

"A country like New Zealand could start to benchmark its approaches to border management with the eight states and territories in Australia and look at best practice across all of these jurisdictions."

Other red zone countries are out of the question. You only have to look to Brazil, the latest epicentre of the pandemic, to see the risk is real. Its health system is buckling as deaths near 4000 a day.

Peru's health system is also near collapse, with no oxygen or beds with ventilators. The UK, however, is slowly opening back up after a mass lockdown and vaccination effort.

"I'm going to drink a pint of beer in the pub," says British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

But it'll be a cautious celebration. Poland is warning of a third wave as police crackdown on those breaking lockdown.

It's a similar picture in France as cases rise there.

Borders around the world are just as much of a concern now as they were a year ago, not least of all finding a way to start reopening them.

The hope is if we do it right, New Zealand could set the global standard.