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Had mild Omicron — hoping for return of quarantine-free travel

A former Gisborne man is urging the Government to change its approach to quarantine-free travel from Australia.

After experiencing mild symptoms from the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in Melbourne, Aaron Bingham is hoping for the return of the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble — without the need for a stay in managed isolation facilities.

“Our family has been struck by the Omicron strain here in Australia,” he told The Herald.

“All very mild symptoms and hoping New Zealand opens its borders soon to Australia, so we can return to Gisborne for a holiday.

“It was a relief to just get it, particularly knowing it's milder and would build our immunity to other variants.

“We noticed Sophie our seven-year old had a fever on Sunday and took a rapid antigen test. She was positive. We all subsequently showed symptoms in the coming days, along with positive tests. So far, all symptoms have been relatively mild, including slightly raised temperatures, headaches, runny nose and lethargy, almost identical to a bad cold.

“Everyone we know who has tested positive has had similar symptoms and it's clear that Omicron is much milder than the Delta strain. It looks like cases will peak in the next couple of weeks because so many people are getting it, as it's more infectious, with a steady decline from there.

“We are hopeful New Zealand will abandon any thoughts of an ongoing ‘zero Omicron' approach and open up its borders soon. We are keen to return home for a holiday to see our friends and family across in Gisborne who we haven't seen for three years.”

The family originally had flights booked to visit Gisborne in 2020 and then also for Christmas 2021, which had to be cancelled when the travel bubble with Australia “popped”, Mr Bingham said.

Since then Aaron and wife Alisha have been waiting for borders to open, as they did not want to go through MIQ with their young children.

The Government had originally planned to reopen MIQ-free travel with Australia in January but last month Cabinet pushed that date out until the end of February.

KEEN TO COME HOME: Aaron Bingham with children Sophie, 7, and Lucy, 4, and wife Alisha in Melbourne, before testing positive for Omicron.

  1. Stephen McGrath says:

    I also live in Melbourne. I work in local government, seconded to a Covid support role. My family have also experienced Covid which like Mr Bingham outlined, was mild. However, I think when dealing with a pandemic it’s really about management of the wider structure of the health system and the supply economy rather than saying it’s just a mild experience for an individual and therefore the country should open up. As I write this there are food supply issues, service disruption, no effective testing, health worker shortages and wait times on ambulances – and in three weeks time it is predicted to be worse. The NZ health system and supply economy is not yet prepared for Omicron. Look and learn from the Australian experience; get 3rd doses, have rapid antigen tests available, stock up for unplanned isolation, businesses firm up your business continuity plans. Country towns struggle with food supply and staff more acutely than bigger cities and New Zealand is made up of 15 country towns like Gisborne, so prepare! I haven’t seen Gisborne family for four years, or been home for six, however I want NZ to be ready for Omicron before I come home.

    1. Peter Jones says:

      Prepare for what?
      Bring it on.

  2. John Ruru says:

    I’ve had it (Covid) too … but believe I had Delta. It resulted in a runny nose for a couple and days and a kind of yucky feeling. I was double jabbed though, which obviously kept things mild! Feels like a storm in a teacup if you are vaccinated!

  3. B. Beignet says:

    And the author’s medical qualifications are what exactly? While it might be intelligent in someone’s universe to claim to be knowledgeable about immunology and virology with zero education, you’re seriously basing your “request” on your families’ reactions to Covid? Some of your family tested positive to the virus which has killed millions of people world-wide and because their symptoms were mild you think the government should radically alter their medical protocols?

    Never mind the indisputable fact that you and your family could carry and transmit the virus to others, including the aged and people suffering from comorbidities, your appeal is based on travel inconvenience?

    New Zealand, by implementing tough quarantine restrictions, has undoubtedly prevented the spread of this insidious disease and has saved countless lives. The petty annoyances suffered by those entering the country is a small price to pay.

  4. winston moreton says:

    Andrew were Mr Bingham and family vaccinated for Covid-19? It seems that those who are get little more than common-cold symptoms from Omicron