Queensland has announced new restrictions for anyone travelling from Victoria.
Queensland has announced new restrictions for anyone travelling from Victoria.

Urgent call for returned travellers to test immediately

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young wants anyone in Queensland who has been in Victoria on or since December 21 to get tested for coronavirus immediately and to quarantine until they receive a negative result.

Dr Young's plea comes amid growing outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in southern states.

Victoria recorded 12 new cases of the virus on Saturday, including 10 that were locally acquired, and NSW has confirmed seven more infections.

The locally acquired Victorian infections are linked to the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock, in Melbourne's southeast, which have been traced back to Sydney's Northern Beaches-Croydon cluster.

Dr Young has stopped short of closing Queensland borders to Victoria or to the whole of NSW, where masks have been made mandatory in key indoor settings in Sydney and surrounding areas.

At this stage, Queensland remains open to all of Australia except Greater Sydney, which has been declared a hotspot.

Dr Jannette Young. Picture: Peter Wallis
Dr Jannette Young. Picture: Peter Wallis

"While we are not announcing hotspots in Victoria at this stage, I am very concerned how the situation is escalating," Dr Young said.

"Victoria's own assessment of the situation is that the risk of spread is right across the state, not just in Melbourne.

"Anyone currently in Queensland who has been in Victoria on or since 21 December should get tested immediately and quarantine at home or their accommodation until they receive a negative result.

"This is very serious and we're taking this action now. This will ensure we know of any positive cases really early and we can manage our response accordingly."

Dr Young said a close contact of a Victorian case had already been identified in the Mackay region and a casual contact had been found on the Gold Coast.

"I anticipate more to come," she said.

The ongoing NSW and Victorian coronavirus outbreaks have put the travel plans of thousands of Queenslanders in limbo with families who have booked interstate holidays weighing up whether they should risk travelling.

Both Dr Young and Health Minister Yvette D'ath have warned Queenslanders to "consider their need to travel" to NSW and Victoria, given the growing coronavirus clusters.

"Things can change really quickly with this virus - we've seen that in other jurisdictions, which is why I continue to advise Queenslanders to reconsider their need to travel to NSW or Victoria," Dr Young said.

"If you do decide to go, you need to be aware of the potential consequences, such as border changes and not making it home to Queensland before hotel quarantine is imposed.

"And if you're already in Victoria or NSW consider coming home."

Victoria records 10 locally acquired COVID-19 cases overnight : Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley reported the state had 10 locally acquired COVID-19 overnight and also announced a direct link had been found to the New South Wales cluster.

Queensland recorded one new case of the virus today in hotel quarantine, taking the state's tally of confirmed infections since the pandemic began to 1255.

Of those, 13 remain active - seven on the Gold Coast, one on the Sunshine Coast, four in the Metro North Hospital and Health Service catchment in Brisbane's north and one in the Metro South region.

More than three-quarters of Queensland's cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been acquired overseas.

Another 23 people caught the virus interstate and 280 cases have been locally acquired, including 41 so-called mystery infections, where the source remains unknown.

Since Queensland recorded its first case in late January last year, the state has performed 1,485,573 tests for the virus.

Six Queenslanders have died of COVID-19, the last in April.

 

Queenslander Andrew Bird, 31, is visiting relatives in Victoria. Picture: Supplied
Queenslander Andrew Bird, 31, is visiting relatives in Victoria. Picture: Supplied

 

Andrew Bird, 31, is in country Victoria, visiting his family for the first time in over a year.

He is one of thousands of Queenslanders who will be asked to take a COVID test and quarantine at home until receiving a negative result.

The now Gold Coast local said it had been a stressful few days, waiting to see if the Queensland Government would close borders to NSW, or make Victoria a hotspot.

Despite today's announcement, Mr Bird said he was still poised, in case things changed.

"It was such a relief to finally get down here, but now we are on edge waiting to see if there will be any last minute decisions from the Queensland government," he said.

"I drove the 20 hours down here with my fiancé and our dog, if they decide to close borders, it won't be a quick trip home.

"We have decided to stay and to enjoy our time with family, but it's definitely in the forefront of our minds.

"If something is announced, before we leave around January 8, we will just have to hustle.

"We are getting married in August and just really hope that our family will be able to travel to Queensland come that time."

 

Originally published as Urgent call for returned travellers to test immediately