As NSW prepares for another day of spiralling coronavirus numbers, other states are ordering residents home and fighting off “flying embers” that threaten to reveal more virus hotspots.
It’s almost certain that Sydney’s lockdown will not lift on Friday.
Pre-empting that businesses will continue to take a hit long after this week, the federal and NSW governments are set to announce disaster payments intended to help with cashflow so bosses don’t have to lay off workers.
NSW leaders met their federal counterparts again on Monday night, with details of the package expected to be revealed on Tuesday.
Contact-tracing teams, meanwhile, were logging the movements of the 112 NSW residents most recently confirmed to have contracted the virus.
Twelve new bus routes were named as exposure sites, as well as eight venues across Fairfield, Lakemba, Roselands, Bondi Junction, Green Valley, Yagoona and Greenacre.
Victorian authorities also named exposure sites amid concern removalists who travelled between NSW, Victoria and South Australia while infectious could have spread the virus.
⚠️PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT – VENUES AND TRANSPORT ROUTES ⚠️
NSW Health has been notified of a number of new venues of concern and transport routes associated with confirmed cases of COVID 19. pic.twitter.com/2M2N0riZp2
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) July 12, 2021
Authorities are still reviewing the removal team’s log books and tracking fuel cards as they track the crew’s exact movements.
Victoria’s COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said the information being given to health authorities by the removalists was “not as crisp and clear and consistent” as it should be.
Removalists are permitted to travel interstate but there are strict rules on what they can do while in Victoria – including that they must sleep in their trucks and use masks if they stop for food or fuel.
“I don’t have a complete accurate track in terms of exactly where they stayed,” Mr Weimar said.
“My understanding at this point in time is that they stayed in their cab as part of their protocols.
“Any other locations they may have stopped at we’re still trying to track down definitively.”
What authorities do know is that the trio travelled from Sydney to Melbourne on July 8.
They delivered furniture to a home in Craigieburn, in the city’s north, then collected goods in Maribyrnong, in Melbourne’s west.
They spent the night in Victoria before heading to Adelaide the next morning.
The team returned to Sydney shortly after a member of the crew was contacted by NSW Health on July 9 and told he was a primary close contact of a positive case.
The removalists had contact with two families while in Victoria. Those people are now isolating.
On Monday night, Maribyrnong’s Ariele Apartments – where the removalists stopped on Thursday – were listed as exposure sites.
Residents have been ordered into 14 days’ quarantine.
A Mobil petrol station and a McDonald’s, both in Ballan – near Ballarat – are also on the exposure list after it was confirmed the men stopped there and used showers.
The Coles at Craigieburn Central, along with the entire shopping centre, and a Broadmeadows petrol station were also identified as exposure sites for specific times on Saturday and Sunday.
New exposure sites have been published online at https://t.co/xojLvnrdjA
If you have been to any exposure sites in the specified times, follow the health advice listed. [1/9] pic.twitter.com/ITUQ4VYWP3
— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) July 12, 2021
The removalists had already purportedly left the state by then, meaning the venues are likely linked to two new COVID-19 cases from a family from the City of Hume who recently returned from Sydney.
Early on Tuesday, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed a third case linked to the Hume family.
“We’re very confident that we’ve got our arms around that and those people are in iso and have been doing the right thing,” he told Melbourne’s 3AW radio early on Tuesday.
Mr Weimar said three of the four family members flew home from Sydney on July 4 carrying red-zone permits. The other drove, arriving last Thursday.
They all tested negative shortly after arrival but two became symptomatic and were swabbed again on Sunday. Positive results were returned on Monday morning.
The flight has not been added as an exposure site as the three family members tested negative two days later. All other passengers remain in isolation anyway, as fellow red-zone returnees.
Mr Weimar said he was not surprised “flying embers” from the Sydney outbreak had broken containment lines.
NSW had 112 more local COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday, at least 46 of which were out in the community for part or all of their infectious period.
“Where the numbers are, it is not likely – in fact, almost impossible – for us to get out of lockdown on Friday,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday.
“Family or close friends, unfortunately, bear the brunt of those 112 [cases] we have seen overnight.
“If you put yourself at risk, you’re putting your entire family – and that means extended family, as well as your closest friends and associates – at risk.”
NSW has had almost 680 COVID-19 cases in the community since June 16, when the Bondi cluster emerged.
There are 18 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with four ventilated.
Palaszczuk orders Queenslanders home
The Queensland Premier has told people in NSW to return home while they still can, warning Sydney’s coronavirus crisis could force her to close the border with little notice.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has opted to keep the border open – for now.
But she’s been direct with residents who are south of the border, saying she’s dealing with a volatile situation that could mean Queenslanders are shut out if the virus spreads from greater Sydney into regional NSW.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young said any spread of the virus outside the greater Sydney lockdown area would be extremely worrying.
Ms Palaszczuk has also defended a deal that will allow the NRL to move 12 clubs to south-east Queensland for two months, so the competition can continue.
The agreement will allow players to bring their families with them. Ms Palaszczuk said that would not pose a risk because the clubs will have exclusive use of three hotels.
“They will be in their distinct hubs. It’s up to the NRL to police that, but we’ll be monitoring that very closely as well,” she said.
Worker support amid Tasmania virus testing
Tasmania is offering one-off financial payments to people forced to isolate as a result of precautionary coronavirus tests linked to a health worker overseas.
The worker tested positive in London on July 4 after returning a negative test in Tasmania before their departure.
There is no indication they were infectious or contracted the virus in Tasmania, but state authorities have urged people who were at more than 30 “exposure” sites to get tested.
Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said the state government would pay $250 to workers who have lost wages while isolating during the testing process.
Small businesses hit by the testing directive can apply for assistance, Mr Rockliff said.
More than 1400 people have been tested since the list of venues was revealed on Saturday.