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The Pacific Islands should be next in line for a travel bubble following today's announcement of quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand, Professor Michael Baker says.
Quarantine-free travel across the Tasman will be available from 11.59pm on 18 April. Under the traffic light system, a serious outbreak could prompt a pause or suspension of travel on a state-by-state basis.
Baker told 1 NEWS the “timing for a travel bubble is good”, adding that both countries “are pursuing elimination very effectively, we know a lot about this virus and now, of course, we have vaccines delivered to our border workers so we've got another line of defence”.
The epidemiologist says the Pacific Islands should be next for a travel bubble, noting that “many Pacific Islands have entirely excluded this virus”.
“The kind of processes we're going to roll out with the Australian states and territories could also work with those Pacific Islands very effectively,” he said.
He says the weakest link in the trans-Tasman arrangement continues to be the “external border we have with the rest of the world” as we're “still importing large numbers of infected people, so I think that's the challenge for Australia and New Zealand”.
The University of Otago professor says the levels of safety between the two countries are “very similar,” adding that the “risk of someone arriving on a flight from Australia with this virus is very similar from the risk of one arriving from another part of New Zealand now”.
He says New Zealand ans Australia have succeeded while others have failed so far as the two countries “have established a true green zone” and “have eliminated this virus and we're extending that to the Pacific”.
The travel bubble will serve as a “globally important model” for other countries, he says.
“One of the scenarios for the future is what we could call 'progressive elimination', where this approach of basically eliminating the virus with public health measures and vaccines is rolled out globally.
“Global eradication might be possible with that approach,” he said.
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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