Queensland makes 'necessary' Covid move as Sydney cluster grows

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·3-min read

Queensland will close its borders to Greater Sydney to stop the spread of coronavirus amid an outbreak in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

The Northern Beaches cluster grew by 28 on Sunday with two more cases under investigation.

But these two people live in the Northern Beaches.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Sunday from 1am (AEST) on Monday anyone from Greater Sydney and the Northern Beaches who arrived in the state would have to quarantine for 14 days.

Motorists are seen approaching a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland- New South Wales border.
Police check drivers at a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland-New South Wales border in August. Source: AAP

She added Queensland was adopting a similar approach to Victoria and any Queenslanders currently in NSW would have until 1am Tuesday to return home.

“These decisions are being made to protect Queenslanders and keep Queenslanders safe,” she said.

“And what we are seeing in New South Wales is of concern and when the New South Wales Premier says she is on high alert, we are on high alert.

“So these are border measures that are necessary.”

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young clarified Greater Sydney includes Wollongong, Wollondilly, the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, and the Central Coast.

“We have now seen in New South Wales increased numbers of cases and they have started to see seeding of cases outside the Northern Beaches and clusters develop,” Dr Young said.

“So the risk profile has significantly increased so that's why Greater Sydney would be declared a hot spot from 1am tomorrow morning.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks during a press conference in Brisbane.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the state will close borders with Greater Sydney from 1am Monday (AEST). Source: AAP

Anyone else entering the state will need to qualify for an exemption either through being an essential worker or on compassionate grounds.

“I would say that very few exemptions will be given, as is usually the case but of course we will look at those,” Dr Young said.

“This is important because we have seen a continued escalation in the numbers of cases in Sydney, and here in Queensland, we have removed so many of our restrictions, so we know if we were to get one case there is a real risk that would rapidly spread.”

People are seen lining up at a Covid-19 testing centre at the East Sydney Community and Arts Centre in Darlinghurst in Sydney, Australia.
Residents from Sydney's suburb of Darlinghurst line up at the East Sydney Community and Arts Centre for Covid testing on Sunday. Source: Getty Images

Mystery source of virus cluster

Of concern to authorities is no one knows how the Northern Beaches cluster began.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was likely it came from an overseas traveller who arrived on December 1.

“The only missing link here at the moment is who was the original source of that overseas virus,” he said.

“We have spoken about this before, there was one passenger who came in on December 1, and because of the incredible capacity of our pathology and tracing teams we know that the genomic sequencing has indicated that that person had a genomic sequence very close to the cases that were occurring in Avalon.”

Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said genomic sequencing research had shown it’s likely the person came from the US.

He said they then went into hotel quarantine, but authorities didn’t know how that strain made it to Avalon.

The Northern Beaches remains under lockdown.

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