More than 300 police are stationed on Victoria’s border with South Australia, checking every car and truck crossing out of the locked-down state.
Victoria Police are patrolling their side of the SA border from Mildura down to Portland, with checkpoints set up at crossing points.
It came as Victoria clocked up three weeks without a new virus case or death on Friday. The significant landmark comes just days before Premier Daniel Andrews is announce a further relaxation of COVID restrictions on Sunday.
However, state health authorities have confirmed one possible case is being investigated. It was an initial weak positive test result that will go through more testing and expert review on Friday.
“Preliminary public health actions in place as investigations continue,” they said.
Victoria has just two active infections statewide – down one on Friday after two weeks with three.
On Thursday, Mr Andrews said the border closure wouldn’t affect his plans.
Victoria’s “hard border” with SA will remain until Sunday, when it will be replaced with a permit system.
Travel into Victoria from South Australia is banned, unless for a few exemptions such as essential shopping or seeking medical help.
Truck drivers are exempt from the border ban but are having their temperatures taken at Nhill, about 45 kilometres east of the SA border.
They can also elect to have a COVID-19 test. The results will be fast tracked and truckies do not need to isolate while in Victoria.
“Our position should be jealously guarded,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday.
NSW has introduced a similar system for travellers from South Australia. While there are no bans, they are required to fill out declarations at various entry points to the state, such as Broken Hill.
NSW had no new community cases of COVID in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday. There were three new cases in returned overseas travellers.
Health authorities are concerned however, after fragments of the virus were detected in sewerage samples taken from Batemans Bay on the state’s south coast on Tuesday.
The positive sewage result can be due to shedding of the virus by someone who may have previously had the illness, but anyone in the area with even the mildest symptoms should get tested.
Victoria closure to South Australia is the first time has shut its border to any state during the pandemic.
The 48-hour shutdown was prompted by the unexpected detection of virus fragments in wastewater at Benalla and Portland, both along freight corridors, and the growing Adelaide coronavirus cluster that has sparked a six-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown.
Residents of Benalla and Portland, as well as anyone who visited them between November 15 and 17 with any symptoms, are being urged to get tested and isolate until receiving their result.
New testing sites will be opened on Friday afternoon as part of the testing push. Portland is at a Princess Highway truck spot in Winnap, while the Benalla location was to be announced on Friday.
Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Allan Cheng said the virus fragments could be from an active infection or a recovered case who might still be shedding the virus.
South Australia three more cases in the Parafield outbreak in Adelaide’s north on Friday. Two are family members of a security guard who was already infected and the other is an aged-care worker. All were already in quarantine
The cluster now has 25 infections, with a further 44 suspected infections.
SA’s chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said the number of cases in the outbreak was expected to grow.
“That is because we got so early in the beginning of this cluster, and how people put in quarantine, and when we first tested them, they had not actually become positive,” she said.
“But we will be expecting that to happen now over the next couple of days.”