Victoria’s streak of days without COVID infections in the wider community has ended, with a returned Sydney traveller testing positive for the virus.
Health authorities confirmed the infection on Tuesday morning.
“Today, we record our 53rd day without community transmission in Victoria,” state Health Minister Martin Foley said.
“However, one positive case from a returned Victorian traveller was acquired within the Northern Beaches outbreak in Sydney.”
The patient is a 15-year-old girl from the Moonee Valley area in Melbourne’s inner-north-west. She visited several Sydney virus hotspots before returning home in a car with her family.
Mr Foley said the teenager had been isolating at home with her family since returning from NSW. They had all been tested for the virus. Two of the four family members are awaiting their test results which will be available later on Tuesday.
“Given the family were isolating at home, at this point, there are no known exposure sites in Victoria,” he said.
However, the NSW Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant confirmed the family stopped at Oliver’s Real Food in Gundagai, north of the Victorian border on Friday December 18 in the mid-afternoon.
Victoria also had two more infections in returned travellers in hotel quarantine on Tuesday, and has 11 active virus cases overall.
The teenager is linked to the widening Northern Beaches cluster that is threatening Christmas arrangements for millions of people. It grew by 15 cases on Monday, to a total of 83 infections, with an ever-increasing list of exposure sites across Sydney and the NSW central coast.
Under current regulations, any Victorian who returns from greater Sydney, including the Northern Beaches area, or the NSW central coast must get tested and quarantine for 14 days.
Mr Foley said 17 people – including a family of five – had been transferred to hotel quarantine after returning to Victoria from designated “red zones” linked to the Sydney outbreak. A further 4000 people who had visited NSW “amber zones” have been tested on their return to Victoria, all returning negative results.
“My message to anyone trying to enter Victoria from NSW is – don’t. You won’t get in, and if you do, you’ll be spending your time at Christmas and New Year in hotel quarantining,” he said.
Victoria has shut its border to people travelling from greater Sydney and the NSW central coast.
Local government area bubbles have been established on either side of the Victorian-NSW boundary to allow those in border communities to cross upon presentation of their driver’s licence.
On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the border to NSW would remain closed for as long as Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton believed was “proportionate and appropriate”.
NSW Health will provide an update on the Northern Beaches outbreak at 11am (local time) on Tuesday. State Health Minister Brad Hazzard refused to reveal the numbers in an early morning radio interview with the ABC, saying only that he was “fairly happy” with them.
On Monday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was too soon to tell what Christmas Day would look like across Sydney.
A decision will be made on gatherings for Christmas Day when the NSW government cabinet meets on Wednesday.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said any decision on further restrictions would be based on the prevalence of COVID-19 outside the Northern Beaches.
“What we’re interested in is making sure we don’t see any further transmission that is not linked exactly to the Avalon cluster,” she said on Monday.