States are closing their borders to residents of Sydney after a COVID outbreak in the city’s east rose to at least three cases on Thursday.
With the school holidays just days away, millions of Sydney residents are facing canceled plans and new coronavirus rules, with health officials on high alert for the virus to spread to suburbs.
The outbreak emerged with two local cases of COVID-19 – a husband and wife – detected on Wednesday. The man, who is in his 60s and lives in Bondi, is an airport driver but it is not yet clear how he contracted the virus.
A third person – a woman in her 60s – was confirmed with the virus on Thursday. She allegedly contracted it after visiting the Belle Café in Vaucluse on the same day as the airport driver.
There is also a fourth potential community case in Sydney. A man in his 40s from the Baulkham Hills area in the city’s northwest returned a low-positive test – authorities are investigating whether it could be a false positive or an infection historical.
Sydney residents have been urged to avoid large gatherings unless absolutely necessary and to wear masks on public transport as health officials try to track down the latest infections.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there was concern that transmission of the virus had occurred outside of a household.
“We have heard before that a woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time and contracted the virus,” he said on Thursday.
“It could happen to any of us. Take it seriously. “
Police are investigating whether Bondi’s man broke health orders. Those who work on the front lines of the hotel quarantine system must be tested for the virus daily.
However, the man was first tested for the virus on June 15, when he returned a positive reading. It is not known when he started working in the system.
Mr Hazzard declined to comment on the police investigation into the driver, but said everyone involved in the airport transport had legal obligations.
“The virus is now more dangerous than it has ever been in the world,” he said.
“Being careless about what the health authorities ask you to do is simply inexcusable. “
The Bondi driver has been confirmed to have a strain of the Delta variant of the virus that has never been seen in Australia.
Authorities believe it has been contagious since last Friday.
If the outbreak worsens, NSW could be forced to impose rules on viruses before the school holidays, which begin on June 26. Beyond NSW, other states – including Queensland and Tasmania – have already started restricting arrivals from Sydney.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday urged the Sydneysiders to be careful, warning that two cases could quickly grow to 20.
“Unless you absolutely have to attend a large gathering, unless you absolutely have to engage in activities of a social nature … we ask everyone to refrain from this,” he said. she declared.
“Be very careful, make sure you sanitize your hands and get away from it socially.”
“Suppose everyone you come into contact with has the virus and assume you have the virus yourself – this is the best advice we can give you. “
More than 700 close contacts are isolated after confirmation of positive cases this week. More than a dozen exhibition venues have also been identified, with more added on Thursday.
- See an updated list of NSW sites here
They include Events Cinema, Myer and David Jones in Bondi Junction, cafes in Vaucluse and North Ryde, a car wash in Redfern and a fruit and vegetable shop in Zetland.
Investigations are also underway into a potential breach of a hotel quarantine at the Radisson Blu hotel in Sydney, after three people in two adjoining rooms returned the same viral sequencing results.
School vacation plans canceled as states close borders
Also on Thursday, other states decided to suspend travel from Sydney over fears the virus could spread.
Tasmania, ACT and South Australia have banned entry to anyone who has visited an exhibition site.
Travelers to Western Australia must be tested and self-quarantined for 14 days from their date of exposure, while arrivals to the Northern Territory will be placed in supervised quarantine.
Queensland has implemented a similar ‘traffic light’ interstate travel system to that also used in Victoria.
Starting at 1 a.m. on Saturday, all arrivals in the sunny state will need a declaration pass confirming that they have not frequented an NSW hot spot.
“A green pass indicates that the individual has not been in any COVID hotspot and can travel freely within the state,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.
“An orange pass will be issued in the circumstances where someone goes to Queensland and has been to an interstate exhibition site and applies special quarantine conditions to the person upon arrival.”
Declared hot spots are red areas where no travel is permitted and exemptions will apply to residents of border communities.
More than 70 flights from Sydney were due to land in Queensland on Thursday.
Queensland’s restrictions on arrivals from greater Melbourne will also remain for at least a week. Victoria had no new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, before further easing of restrictions.