With just six days to go until the trans-Tasman bubble inflates, there is "fear" and "concerns" in Australia about what New Zealand's latest border COVID-19 cases mean for travel.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health revealed on Sunday that a third employee at the Grand Millennium hotel managed isolation facility had tested positive for COVID-19. They are genomically linked to a cleaner found to have the virus in March and a security guard who tested positive last week.
While the ministry says the risk to the public is low, especially as the latest case has been isolating, Aucklanders who visited any of the recently designated locations of interest - which includes a store on the city's busy Queen St - are being asked to watch for symptoms.
There's also concern across the ditch about how the new cases may affect the trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel bubble set to get going on Monday.
In its headline, a Daily Mail Australia article on Monday called the new cases a "shock COVID cluster" and said there were "fears" about the future of the travel bubble. The piece said the "outbreak" could see the travel plans "scrapped".
The Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph wrote that the "NZ COVID cases could cause travel chaos" and "plunge" the bubble "into doubt".
Another NewsCorp media outlet, news.com.au, wrote that the cases had "cast a cloud over Australia and New Zealand's travel bubble". However, the article then went on to say there had been "no word" the recent border cases would affect travel plans.
On Monday, Ardern was asked why she thinks Australia hasn't shut its borders to New Zealand following the three border cases. It did so in January when a woman tested positive after leaving managed isolation.
"I think it’s just a demonstration of the fact that every case will have its own circumstances," Ardern told media. "So what we were dealing with in Northland was a situation of a released person who had come through our border system, was found to have contracted COVID late in their stay, and then had a number of, obviously, locations of interest."
"However, this case, someone’s been picked up in our surveillance, they’re linked to a known case. Their locations of interest are small."
The Prime Minister isn't surprised Australia hasn't shut its borders, noting that officials won't be looking simply at the number of cases that arise, but the circumstances around them.
When she announced the starting date for the trans-Tasman bubble last week, Ardern unveiled a traffic-light system for dealing with a case in Australia. A border worker becoming infected was given as an example of a case unlikely to cause any major change.
"If a case is found that is quite clearly linked to a border worker and a quarantine facility and is well contained, you’d likely see travel continue in the same way as you would see life continue if that happened here in New Zealand," she said.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday cases would pop up here and there.
"We should accept during this stage of the pandemic that cases will pop up unexpectedly. I would expect others to keep the borders open to NSW if we had an outbreak we could manage, and I extend that same courtesy to New Zealand."
Under the traffic-light system, travel may start to be affected if there are cases with unknown sources or individual states enter into long-term lockdowns.