Warning over border closures ahead of Easter holidays

Kamilia Palu
·News Editor
·3-min read

The NSW Premier and Health Minister are warning other governments not to “overreact” and shut borders after the state’s Covid-free streak came to an abrupt end on Sunday.

The security guard who tested positive to the virus has the same highly contagious UK strain of the virus as a returned traveller who stayed at a hotel where he worked.

While no further cases of community transmission were recorded in NSW in the 24-hours until 8pm on Sunday, the quarantine period has been extended for some of those staying at the Sydney Sofitel.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard speaks to media following the start of the COVID-19 vaccination program at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Monday, February 22, 2021. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says closing borders over one new coronavirus case is just "plain silly". Source: AAP

Speaking with 2GB’s Jim Wilson, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard addressed rumours that Victoria was planning to close its border with NSW.

He said he had not yet spoken to any of his interstate counterparts, but if they did he would push them to reconsider.

“Certainly if they were to ask me I’d be saying that’s a gross overreaction and actually just plain silly,” he said.

He added he was optimistic about pushing ahead with the easing of restrictions around the state, saying it is “very likely we will proceed”.

“At some stage, when we’ve all had the vaccine, people are going to have to get used to the idea of having people with Covid in the community,” Mr Hazzard said.

“It’s just like having other reactions like the flu for example. This is a virus that’s going to circulate in our community for years to come.”

Mr Hazzard’s comments were echoed by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has urged other governments not to "overreact" and to "give us a chance" before making decisions on borders.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard provide an update on the current Covid 19 situation during a media opportunity at the Prince of Wales Hospital redevelopment in Randwick, Sydney, Monday, March 15, 2021. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian joined Mr Hazzard in urging other states to keep their borders open. Source: AAP

"There is no evidence of widespread transmission," she said.

It "dashes confidence everywhere if people can't rely on borders staying open", she said.

Ms Berejiklian said she was relieved there had been no further community transmissions recorded.

CCTV footage from hotel reviewed

The 47-year-old guard, who was diagnosed on Sunday, worked on March 6 at the hotel where the infected traveller had stayed on the 11th floor.

NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant said authorities had reviewed CCTV footage from the night the guard worked.

There was "not a clear and obvious breach" that explained what had caused the infection. The guard had no symptoms and had followed the required protocols, Dr Chant said.

"We haven't been able to find an exact source, an explanation for how this person became infected," she said on Monday.

"So we are testing everyone who worked, co-workers who worked with this gentleman to just check there is not someone else who may have been an intermediary that transmitted to this gentleman."

A general view of the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth in Sydney, Sunday, March 14, 2021. A person who works in two hotels involved in NSW's COVID-19 quarantine program has come down with the virus, ending the state's virus-free run. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING
The security guard who tested positive for Covid-19 worked at both the Sofitel Wentworth (pictured) and Mantra at Haymarket hotels in inner Sydney. Source: AAP

The infectious traveller did not open his hotel room door or leave his room while the guard was on shift, Dr Chant said.

NSW Health is re-testing everyone staying on the same floor as the returned traveller and extending the quarantine period for those on the 11th floor.

The 167 staff who worked at the Mantra Hotel in Sydney where the man worked an overnight shift on March 12 have also been contacted

NSW Health on Monday afternoon listed a number of new alert venues which were visited by the security guard, including Hurstville Aquatic Leisure Centre on the afternoon of March 10 and Hurstville Coles on the morning of March 13.

Anyone who visited those venues at those times should monitor for symptoms and get tested and isolate if they appear.

- with AAP

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