Australia's largest city of Sydney re-introduced "soft touch" COVID-19 curbs on Wednesday to contain a widening outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant, mandating masks in offices while neighboring states closed their borders.

New Zealand raised the alert level in its capital of Wellington over exposure concerns after an Australian tourist tested positive for the virus upon returning to Sydney from a weekend visit to the neighboring nation.

The latest virus cluster in Australia's most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) has swelled to more than 30 in a week, prompting New Zealand to halt quarantine-free travel.