News Coronavirus Vic traveller with COVID sparks alarm for two states

Vic traveller with COVID sparks alarm for two states

queensland victoria covid
Victorians have been restricted from travelling to Queensland during the southern state's latest COVID outbreak. Photo: AAP
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A woman who went on a road trip from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast last week has tested positive for COVID.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the 44-year-old woman’s diagnosis was confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

She had been staying with family in Caloundra.

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said the woman and her husband left Melbourne on June 1 and arrived in Queensland on June 5, after driving through NSW. They crossed the state border at Goondiwindi.

The infected woman is believed to have had COVID symptoms from June 3.

“She only arrived in Queensland on the fifth. She could well have been infectious while she was travelling through NSW,” Dr Young said.

Early exposure sites include the Goondiwindi McDonald’s, a Caltex petrol station in Toowoomba, Sunny’s at Moffat in Caloundra, the Stockland Shopping Centre at Caloundra, Caloundra Bunnings and Kiwana shopping centre.

  • Queensland Health updates are available here
  • NSW Health exposure sites can be found here

NSW Health has already issued alerts for service stations, accommodation and cafes in Moree, Dubbo, Forbes and Gillenbah, with more expected.

Queensland authorities say they do not yet know why the woman and her husband left Melbourne during its latest COVID lockdown, when travel from the city was banned without an exemption.

“I don’t know why they left, what the reason was … We will look into how all this happened,” Dr Young said.

There are also six close contacts, including the woman’s husband. So far, he has tested negative to the virus, but both have been admitted to the Sunshine Coast Hospital.

Queensland Health is also investigating whether the woman’s case is historic.

“She has been out and about on the Sunshine Coast since she arrived on June 5, plus the time in Goondiwindi and Toowoomba,” Dr Young said.

“Anyone personally with exposure to those sites I have listed or anyone with any symptoms at all, it is vital they get tested so we can find the earliest cases.”

Melbourne’s recent coronavirus spread and subsequent lockdown prompted Queensland to reintroduce quarantine requirements for travellers from the southern city.

Border rules are yet to change, despite Victorian authorities announcing on Wednesday that Melbourne’s two-week lockdown will end on Thursday night.

Victoria still has 83 active COVID cases, including 63 linked to outbreaks in Melbourne that led to the shutdown.

Acting Premier James Merlino confirmed the extended “circuit breaker” lockdown would lift at 11.59pm on Thursday, meaning people will be free to leave home for any reason.

But Melburnians will need to remain within 25 kilometres of their homes, unless working or studying, care giving or getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Mr Merlino said the measure was in place to keep Melbourne residents out of regional areas over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

“Travel into regional Victoria still remains a no-go for now,” he said on Wednesday.

Under the new restrictions for Melbourne, students can return to schools, shops can reopen and hospitality venues can resume seated service.

A ban on home gatherings remains in effect, but up to 10 people can meet outdoors.

Masks will remain compulsory indoors and outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

Melbourne offices can reopen at 25 per cent capacity, although authorities want people to continue to work from home if possible.

The state government is also moving to make QR check-ins compulsory at all workplaces, with few exemptions.

“This is a good day,” Mr Merlino said.

“But we know this isn’t over yet, and until we have widespread vaccination across Victoria and across our country, the virus will still be with us.”

Meanwhile, regional Victorians will be able to welcome two adult guests a day, plus dependents, into their homes from Friday, as part of their suite of more relaxed restrictions.

It is expected Melbourne will move to similar settings as regional Victoria from June 17, with all Victorians able to travel the state freely.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said there were “far too few freedoms” given back to Melburnians after two weeks of sacrifice.

“Victorians deserve to be let out of lockdown jail today, all they got was a slightly longer leash and we deserve so much more,” he said.

The state was plunged into lockdown after a Victorian man contracted COVID-19 while in South Australian hotel quarantine.

He went on to infect almost 100 Victorians, though it remains unclear how.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said the lockdown had been an “awfully painful period” but authorities had no other option to bring the outbreak under control.

“There is really no alternative. Our national strategy of aggressive suppression is there for a reason,” he said.

The pain, however, will continue for some Melbourne businesses such as amusement parks, dance studios, gyms and nightclubs, which will remain closed for the next week on health advice.

Mr Merlino said a $2000 grant would be made available for those businesses that can’t reopen.

Federal government support payments for stood-down workers, meanwhile, will likely end as Melbourne will no longer be defined as a hot spot from Friday.

“We understand hardship doesn’t end at 11.59pm tomorrow night,” Mr Merlino said, noting income support was a responsibility of the federal government.

Victoria reported just one new case on Wednesday. It is linked to the Port Melbourne outbreak at Stratton Finance and the person has been quarantining during their entire infectious period.

-with AAP