Australia’s three most populous states have recorded zero coronavirus cases for the first time in nearly a month.
NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases in the previous 24-hour reporting period for the first time in a week as the state looks to get to grips with a handful of clusters.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced the good news to reporters on Thursday morning, confirming a further two cases in hotel quarantine. There were 20,347 tests processed in the reporting period.
Victoria and Queensland also reported zero locally acquired cases on Thursday – the first time all three states have had zero local cases since December 15.
Mr Hazzard ruled out Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s plan to move returned travellers to quarantine facilities in regional areas instead of inner-city hotels after a quarantine leak in Brisbane earlier this month.
“We don't believe there would be an advantage, in fact, distinct disadvantages to consider moving our public health hotels out of Sydney,” he said.
Mr Hazzard questioned whether regional facilities would have access to the appropriate healthcare.
“If we do get people who deteriorate, we want them to be able to transferred to a major tertiary hospital as quickly as possible,” he said.
“There's no doubt about it, that our medical specialists, our physicians, who have looked after patients who have had COVID-19 had very successful outcomes because of their expertise in managing COVID-19.”
Mr Hazzard said there were up to 3,500 people involved in the hotel quarantine program.
NSW Health on Wednesday night issued an alert for anyone who has been at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane, where the highly contagious outbreak of the UK variant of COVID-19 developed, since December 30.
All ten people in NSW identified by contact tracers as having been at the hotel have since been contacted and returned to hotel quarantine, Mr Hazzard said on Thursday.
Restrictions to stay for several weeks
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant on Wednesday said it was unlikely restrictions across Greater Sydney would be eased soon, because it will at least another three weeks before authorities can be sure the Berala and northern beaches clusters are squashed.
"It would take at least three, maybe four weeks and so I need the community to be on track with us," she said.
"As an epidemiologist, we like to see around two incubation periods before we assess that we are free of the disease."
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