Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is considering "additional restrictions" on Australia, including pre-departure testing, as the trans-Tasman travel bubble puts New Zealand's COVID-free status under threat.
"Obviously, we've got a pause in travel there. You've got states applying restrictions themselves. But that doesn't change the fact we'll consider if we need to do more," Ardern said on Friday.
"If we don't see enough around the border controls for the state that is experiencing an outbreak, that's something that we'd give consideration to adding additional either restrictions or pauses."
The travel bubble pause with New South Wales was extended on Thursday night for 12 days after the state reported 36 community cases of COVID-19, four of which were not linked to the cluster in Bondi being investigated by officials.
New South Wales officials reported on Friday there are now 65 cases linked to the Bondi cluster, and four areas of the state's largest city Sydney are going into lockdown after 22 new cases were recorded.
New South Wales' outbreak has now spilled into neighbouring Victoria, with the co-worker of a Melbourne man who contracted COVID-19 in Sydney testing positive, taking the number of Victorian cases linked with the growing Sydney outbreak to two.
The outbreak also put New Zealand at risk, after a COVID-positive traveler from Sydney spent the weekend in Wellington, sparking alert level 2 restrictions for the capital until Sunday. No cases have been reported in the city, which is still on high alert.
"Today marks five days since the Sydney case left Wellington," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters on Friday.
"That means that someone who was exposed during that time could have started to show symptoms by now so if you were at a location of interest and you've already had a negative test result earlier this week, that doesn't completely rule you out.
"So make sure you continue to monitor for symptoms for at least 14 days through until at least another week."
'Not out of the woods yet'
Cabinet will meet on Sunday virtually to discuss the current alert level restrictions.
"It's important that we all stay vigilant, and that includes people who were on the 195 Air New Zealand flights that took off from Wellington over the weekend and on Monday. That's flights across the country and trans-Tasman," Hipkins said.
Of the 1752 contacts, 532 have so far returned negative results, eight have gone back overseas, and the remaining 1212 are awaiting test results. More than 10,000 tests were processed on Thursday, but only just over 3700 were in Wellington.
"We're not out of the woods," said Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
The traveler had received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia, and Dr Bloomfield said it may have helped in preventing him from spreading the virus.
Hipkins said officials have been monitoring the situation in Australia closely.
"We keep a very close watch on Australia generally. We have a variety of different things we've set out in our trans-Tasman bubble guidance. We'll be watching that very closely over the next 24 to 48 hours," he said.
"We've obviously got a pause with New South Wales which we've just extended. I think today's announcement over there reinforces that that was the right thing to do when we made that decision.
"New South Wales do have a very good contact tracing system and they do lean heavily on their contact tracing system, so they are a bit slower to use those lockdown restrictions than other Australian states are."
Hipkins said requiring a negative pre-departure test of all travelers from Australia is something the Government will consider to prevent an outbreak in New Zealand.
"It is certainly an option, one that we will consider over the next few days. Also informing what we do around Australia more generally outside of New South Wales, their own internal border restrictions are one of the things we will consider there," he said.
"There are likely to be changes to their internal border arrangements as a result of a lockdown in one state, so we'll consider all of that as well. We then consider the nature of number of any cases that were popping up out of the locked down state.
"Those are all the things that we have under review. Pre-departure testing can be a useful tool when applied in the right circumstances, so it is one that we keep in the toolkit. We do know that it could be applied potentially if we need to."
Dr Bloomfield said everybody who has travelled from Sydney since their outbreak started has been emailed since their arrival in New Zealand, and those who have been at a location of interest are required to isolate and get tested.
Pre-departure testing was approved for some travelers who were in Victoria when New Zealand's pause with the state was in place last month. Hipkins said the same could be applied to New South Wales.