Queensland will close its border from 1:00am Saturday to anyone who has been in Greater Melbourne as authorities contact trace 1,500 people in Queensland who travelled through an “exposure site” at the Melbourne airport.
Queensland will close its border for 14 days from 1:00am Saturday to anyone who has been in Greater Melbourne.
- The Queensland border will be closed to 36 local government areas for a period of 14 days
- The Melbourne airport’s cafe and terminal four have been declared exposure sites
- The new exposure sites have sparked huge contact tracing efforts in Queensland
Queensland made the move within an hour of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announcing a five-day lockdown for the whole state, while authorities there carry out contact tracing for a cluster of 13 connected to the Holiday Inn at the Melbourne airport.
A busy cafe at the airport and terminal four have been declared exposure zones.
Acting Health Minister Steven Miles said Victorian authorities had alerted Queensland that there were a large number of people in Queensland who needed to be contact traced.
There are 1,500 people in Queensland connected to terminal four of Melbourne’s airport alone.
The Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport.(ABC News: Patrick Rocca)
“Our contact tracers here in Queensland are racing to contact those individuals, they have all now been messaged,” Mr Miles said.
“We’ve stood up our additional contact tracing resources to ensure that they can do that.”
Greater Melbourne will be declared a hotspot for 14 days, impacting 36 local government areas.
“We need to give them [contact tracers] time to contact those people before we have to add additional contacts to those list,” Mr Miles said.
Queensland COVID-19 snapshot:
He said Queensland welcomed Victoria’s five-day lockdown, following recent snap lockdowns in Brisbane and Perth.
“We hope this third hammer-style lockdown will be just as effective as the last two,” Mr Miles said.
“I’m sure all Queenslanders wish our friends and our family and all Victorians all the best through this lockdown. We were there not that long ago.
“We certainly hope this five days is long enough for them to put into quarantine anyone who might have been in contact.”
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Acting Chief Health Officer Sonya Bennett said the decision to close the border was made after they understood the large task ahead for contact tracers.
She said anyone who had travelled through terminal four of Melbourne airport would need to go into 14 days of quarantine.
“This particular virus, which we know is the UK variant of concern, does transmit very quickly,” she said.
Queensland’s Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett said the hotspot declaration would be reviewed in 14 days.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
“Whilst the Victorian contact tracers have been doing an excellent job in identifying cases and contacting contacts, by the time they do that, often the close contacts of the case are already infected.
“It’s very difficult to get ahead of this virus.”
Dr Bennett said authorities don’t yet know exactly where all the 1,500 people are located in Queensland.
“I suspect they’re all over the place clearly some will be returning Queensland residents who’ve been in Victoria, others will be tourists to Queensland I don’t have those figures unfortunately.”
Ms Bennett said the hotspot declaration would be reviewed in 14 days, rather than the usual 28 days.
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Call for federal quarantine facility
Mr Miles said the latest lockdown highlighted why federal quarantine facilities are needed.
Queensland has been pushing a proposal to use dedicated regional facilities to house returned travellers, and has called for the Commonwealth to take a larger role in quarantine.
“We’ve been saying for some time that hotel hallways aren’t designed for infection control. They’re not ventilated, they’re not air conditioned, the air isn’t filtered,” he said.
“We’ve also said hotel workforces are generally, often, casualised. They are people who, to make ends meet, have to do other jobs. They drive Ubers, they work at airports. If you had a dedicated quarantine facility then you could have a stable workforce, working fulltime, they could even be offered accommodation on site.”
What you need to know about coronavirus:
There were no new cases of coronavirus recorded in Queensland today after 7,110 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours.
There are just six active cases in the state.
Queensland police will not be re-introducing hard road border checkpoints at this stage.