State set to shut borders to Melbourne after Covid outbreak

·4-min read

South Australia has announced its intention to implement new border restrictions for one part of Victoria, after two new cases of coronavirus linked to the state’s hotel quarantine were confirmed.

South Australia’s Police Commissioner Grant Stevens announced the changes at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Our intention is, as of midnight, to institute a lockout for the Greater Melbourne area,” he said.

“So people who are in the Greater Melbourne area are in all likelihood, as of midnight, not going to be able to enter South Australia.”

Quarantining hotel guest at the Holiday Inn near the  Airport are moved to a new location in Melbourne, Wednesday, February 10, 2021. More Victorians have been forced into isolation and another review of the state’s hotel quarantine system is underway after two new cases of COVID-19 were linked to a Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport. (AAP Image/Luis Ascui) NO ARCHIVING
Quarantining hotel guests at the Holiday Inn near the Airport were moved to a new location in Melbourne on Wednesday. Source: AAP

Returning South Australians, people legitimately relocating to the state and those deemed “essential travellers” are exempt.

“Our steps in South Australia are taken with an abundance of caution to make sure we're minimising the risk, at the same time not taking steps that aren't deemed to be necessary,” Comm Stevens said.

The Commissioner added the decision to implement the hard border might change, as South Australia awaits further information from Victoria.

“My understanding is that there is further information being provided in the very near future,” he said.

“But our endeavour is to make sure South Australians or other people intending to travel have as much notice as possible so they can make those arrangements and cross that border if it's necessary for them to do so before we make those changes.”

Tasmania has added several new ‘High-risk premises and locations’ in Melbourne.

Anyone who has travelled to the listed locations in the 14 days before travelling to the isolated state will not be permitted entry, unless they are an essential traveller.

“If entry is approved, there may be a quarantine requirement in government-designated accommodation (fees can apply),” the Tasmanian Government’sCovid website says.

Victoria’s hotel cluster grows

On Wednesday afternoon, Victoria’s Department of Health confirmed two new Covid cases linked to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport.

Of the two new cases, one is a worker while the other is a previous resident who left the facility on February 7.

The department said there may be exposure sites linked to the previous resident and interviews are underway.

The two new infections mean the outbreak now encompasses three workers, two released guests and a family of three no longer staying at the hotel.

There are now eight cases linked to the cluster.

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport was now shut down for a “terminal clean”.

About 135 staff at the hotel were stood down on Tuesday night and were told to get tested and then isolate at home for 14 days, bringing the total number of staff isolating to 220.

Authorities believe a medical device in the room of the family could be to blame for the cluster.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said authorities believe the cases are linked to the use of a nebuliser, a device that vaporises medication or liquid into a fine mist.

"If that's breathed in and someone is infectious or later tests positive, then that picks up the virus and then that mist can be suspended in the air with very fine aerosolised particles," he told reporters on Wednesday.

The nebuliser was used by a Holiday Inn guest taken to intensive care on Tuesday.

The guest, who has an underlying health condition, and their two family members contracted the virus overseas.

Professor Sutton said it was possible everyone on that floor of the hotel has been exposed to the virus.

Forty-eight guests of the hotel considered primary close contacts will be transferred to the Pullman Melbourne.

With AAP

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