COVID-19: Siouxsie Wiles warns New Zealanders of 'much, much more infectious' Delta variant

The New Zealand public needs to take the news of the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 possibly being in the country extremely seriously, a leading microbiologist says.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health confirmed a passenger infected with the Delta variant, first detected in India, flew into Wellington out of Sydney on Friday night and returned to Australia on Monday morning.

The traveller tested positive upon returning to Australia but New Zealand's Ministry of Health says they most likely contracted the virus in Sydney prior to their trip.

Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles is warning New Zealanders the Delta COVID-19 variant can spread extremely quickly.

"Any case of COVID is obviously not something that we want in New Zealand, and especially the Delta version which we know is much, much more infectious than the previous variants," she told Newshub. 

Dr Wiles said people only need to look overseas to see why the variant shouldn't be underestimated. The World Health Organization has said Delta is now the globally dominant variant of the disease. 

"In the UK, this Delta variant has now completely replaced the Alpha - which was [Britain's] dominant strain," Dr Wiles said. "It's extremely transmissible.

"What they're seeing in Sydney is transmission taking place from what they're calling 'fleeting encounters' - so people who have shared the same airspace."

Dr Wiles.
Dr Wiles. Photo credit: The AM Show

She said New Zealanders can do their bit to help health officials stop the virus.

"Remember everything we've been saying for over a year now which is: if you have any symptoms, it could be COVID-19 - you should arrange to get tested and isolate.

Ten new community cases were reported in New South Wales on Tuesday, all linked to a cluster in the Sydney suburb of Bondi.

New Zealand officials will provide an update on the Wellington situation at 1pm.