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Eight cases of locally transmitted Covid-19 have been identified in New South Wales, prompting the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to say she is on “high alert” as her state remains under pressure to open its borders.
The cases announced on Thursday included three already announced on Wednesday by health authorities. Only one was still under investigation, the rest are linked to known cases or clusters. A further four cases were found in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
The community cases prompted the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to declare on Wednesday that Queensland’s requirement that her state record 28 days with no community transmission before reopening its borders was unreasonable and “unlikely”. Palaszczuk responded to the comments on Thursday, saying Queensland would hold firm on the requirement.
“If the NSW premier is on high alert, that puts me on high alert,” Palaszczuk said. “I want to see the day where all Australia opens up, but for that to happen we need to get community transmission under control.”
No cases were recorded in Queensland overnight.
The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, hit back, describing Palaszczuk as “cruel”.
“As health minister here in NSW, I’m over it, and I’ve got to say I think premier Palaszczuk is being political,” he said. “She is being cruel. I am constantly having requests from people in NSW, who are in some very sad situations, who want to get across the border to reunite with families … it’s time that this pettiness is put aside and we move forward. We are all Australians.”
The NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the community cases had been split into two clusters, and that urgent genomic sequencing to learn more about the spread was under way.
Most cases had since been linked back to the Liverpool dialysis cluster. A healthcare worker at Liverpool hospital hosted an event in her home before she knew she was infected or had symptoms, which two of the people among the new cases attended. Two household contacts of the health worker have also become infected, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 60s.
One of the new cases is being treated as a separate cluster, with the source of the infection still under investigation. Two of the new cases are close contacts of this case.
A known case travelled on a train on Saturday 3 October that left Parramatta station at 7.13pm and arrived at Milsons Point station at 8.04pm, the Department of Health said in a statement. Anyone who caught the train is considered a casual contact and must monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop. After testing, they must remain in isolation until a negative test result is received.
Authorities are also asking anyone who attended the Ripples restaurant in Milsons Point on 3 October, between 8pm and 10.30pm, to come forward. Hazzard said people in NSW were entering a state of “complacency”.
“I’ll add apathy to that,” he said. “I’m not happy about it, but I see it.” He said workplaces, especially restaurants, cafes and pubs, “needed to step it up”. “The other level of danger is that the place that we would normally consider to be the safest place on earth – our homes,” he said. “You already heard today that a number of the people who have actually got the virus got it in a home situation. We must treat this new world of Covid, even in our own homes, with a higher level of care and caution.”
In Victoria, 11 new cases of the virus were recorded. The premier Daniel Andrews announced that from Friday surveillance testing and preventative contact tracing measures in regional Victoria would be increased, especially in high-risk workplaces such as meat processing, supermarket and temperature-controlled perishable distribution centres.
More than 2,360 tests were conducted in regional Victoria on Wednesday, with 294 people tested in Kilmore alone, where a cluster has emerged linked to a man in metropolitan Melbourne who had dined at a Kilmore restaurant.
Andrews reiterated it was still too early to say whether restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne would be eased by 10 October, with the number of mystery cases still of concern.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Queensland holds firm on 28-day border ban after NSW records 12 new Covid cases | Australia news