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New South Wales reported four new cases of Covid community transmission on Monday, while greater Brisbane will come out of lockdown from 6pm after reporting zero cases.
But the Queensland health minister, Yvette D’Ath, warned greater Brisbane must “continue to be vigilant”, with some restrictions remaining and mask requirements introduced.
“Globally, the virus is getting worse,” D’Ath said. “There’s been 19 million positive cases and over 1.9 million deaths globally. But what is more concerning is the World Health Organization has reported that for the third week in a row, we have seen four million new cases a week … things are getting worse globally, which is why we are seeing more positive cases coming back from overseas.”
The snap 72-hour lockdown for greater Brisbane was announced on Friday after health authorities learned a hotel quarantine cleaner had visited several community locations while infectious with a concerning strain of the virus known as B.1.1.7 – first identified by UK health authorities.
However, despite widespread testing, no community-acquired cases were identified over the weekend. The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said it meant the lockdown could end, but masks must be worn in indoor places including shopping centres, gyms and on public transport until 22 January by anyone who has been in greater Brisbane since 2 January.
Restrictions on visits to hospitals and aged care, and restrictions on the number of people allowed at indoor and outdoor gatherings and in hospitality venues will also remain until 22 January.
“We just want greater Brisbane for the next 10 days to all be part of this mask wearing, and then hopefully we [continue to] get zero community transmission,” the premier said.
However the chief health officer Jeannette Young said she was still concerned that some contacts of the infected hotel quarantine cleaner may not yet have come forward for testing. So far 370 of her close contacts had been identified and quarantined.
“We have definitely found the closest contacts,” Young said. “I’m just not sure at this stage we have found all the less risky contacts that were at Coles, Woolworths.”
She urged people to continue to get tested.
Palaszczuk said the short lockdown had been the right thing to do, and that she was “absolutely relieved” no further community cases had been found.
“This has been unprecedented,” she said. “It has been extraordinary time for people. And as we know this UK variant, the reason why we did it and why we’re continuing to wear our masks in public areas, is because this is a highly contagious strain is 70% more contagious. And we don’t want to see that in our community.”
On Friday the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee issued an updated statement about the B.1.1.7 strain, and another highly infectious strain known as B.1.351 that emerged in South Africa.
“However, there is still much not known about these viruses, including whether they result in cases being infectious for a longer period,” the statement said. “To date there is no evidence that either of these variants cause more severe disease or that the current vaccines would not be effective against the new variants.”
From 7 January, additional precautions were put in place to manage people with either of the variants, including a longer minimum period of isolation and assessment of infectiousness by experts before release.
Meanwhile, three new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 were identified in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday in NSW. All three were linked to the Berala cluster and are close contacts of a previously reported case. There are now 26 cases associated with the Berala cluster.
A fourth case was identified after 8pm in a man who tested positive after attending the emergency department at Mount Druitt hospital overnight, and this case will be included in Tuesday’s numbers. The Mount Druitt case has yet to be linked to a cluster and investigations were continuing. The NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the man, in his 40s, had household contacts who had also tested positive.
In a statement, NSW Health said: “Urgent investigations and contact tracing are under way.
“Anyone determined to be at risk of possible exposure is being contacted and advised to get tested and isolate,” the statement said. “The Mount Druitt emergency department is undergoing deep cleaning and will shortly be operating as normal, with support from staff throughout Western Sydney Local Health District.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: NSW reports four new Covid cases as Brisbane to come out of 72-hour lockdown | Health