Outbreaks of COVID-19 are raising fears and re-instating restrictions across Australia, with Darwin placed in lockdown, Queensland recording two new cases and another across the country in Perth.
In Perth a snap ruling banished crowds from today’s Western Bulldogs-Eagles clash after a COVID-19 case was identified in Perth’s northern suburbs.
Darwin and surrounding areas will enter lockdown for 48 hours following four new cases linked to a central Australian mine.
None are locally-acquired but Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the outbreak represents the Northern Territory’s biggest crisis since the beginning of the pandemic.
He says the cases involve the highly contagious Delta variant, with more infections are expected.
The lockdown, in effect as of 1pm on Sunday, follows revelations yesterday that 900 workers who left Granites Mine 540km northwest of Alice Springs where a man tested positive, flew to Brisbane, Perth and Alice Springs.
The West Australian case centers on woman who picked up the infection, believed to be rampantly contagious Delta variant, during a visit to Sydney and tested positive on her return.
WA authorities were quick to act, immediately make masks obligatory indoors, emptying Optus Stadium of what was expected to be a capacity crowd and immediately cancelling Sunday’s Chicken & Beer Festival.
Mr Cook said public events will be restricted to 150 people, a 30-person applies to private gatherings and Perth and Peel venues must adhere to the “two square metre” rule. Travel to WA’s remote Indigenous communities will be restricted.
Mr Cook didn’t rule out lockdown as a future necessity, with the current restrictions to remain in place for at least three days.
“We are watching the situation in NSW and seeing just how quickly and easily the Delta variant is transmitted within the community,” Mr Cook told reporters.
Across the country in Brisbane, contact tracers are focusing on a couple known to have been active in the Brisbane community for several days.
The new cases are believed to be part of the Brisbane cluster linked to a Portuguese restaurant, not the Sydney outbreak.
Chain of transmission
While the couple didn’t attend the restaurant, Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said one is a friend of people who did.
That person did not develop symptoms, but got tested because they were working at Brisbane Airport’s Direct Factory Outlet, which was earlier listed as an exposure site.
“We are going to deem them as infectious in the community from the 20th of June,” Dr Young said on Sunday.
“They’ve been to a lot of sites throughout the community which we’ll put up on our website, several gyms (and) several shopping centres.”
The person’s partner, who lives in the same house, tested positive and did develop symptoms.
“They’ve also been to a lot of venues, a lot of different sites, and they work in the Sunshine Coast,” Dr Young said.
The Queensland Health website is expected to be updated with exposure sites on Sunday.
If the new cases are linked to the existing Brisbane cluster, involving the Alpha variant, they would take that outbreak to nine known cases.
Meanwhile health authorities are working to contact passengers who were on board Virgin flights with a staff member who has since tested positive for the virus.
Five Virgin Australia flights on Friday and Saturday took passengers either to or from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.
“Fortunately the flights were fairly empty because of all of the restrictions with Sydney,” Dr Young said.
Millions of NSW residents are in the first day of a fortnight-long lockdown, with residents of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong ordered to stay at home until at least July 9.
The lockdown came after the number of COVID-19 cases in the Harbour City swelled by 12 to 80 on Saturday.
It comes as a positive case at a Northern Territory mine is also heightening concern in Queensland, with several workers understood to have returned to the state.
The man, a mine worker, flew into Brisbane from Victoria before travelling on to the Northern Territory.
While in Brisbane he stayed on the floor of a hotel previously linked to cases of virus transmission.
“Because he’d been on that floor he was asked to get tested, which he did, and that came back positive,” Dr Young said.
All those staying on floor five of Brisbane’s Novotel are now being moved.
Dr Young said there is “a lot happening” in the state, and urged anybody with symptoms to get tested as soon as possible.
“That is just critical,” she said.
Queensland will also revert back to previous venue density requirements and cap guests at private homes at 100 for the two-week duration of NSW’s current restrictions.
Meanwhile Queensland recorded one additional case in hotel quarantine, bringing the active total to 40.
– with AAP