NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has again criticised Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for her continuing tough stance on borders.
Ms Palaszczuk said on Wednesday NSW had 48 hours to find the source new mystery COVID-19 cases or risk delaying reopening of its border with Queensland.
As the deadline approached, Mr Hazzard said the demand was “silly” and “cruel”.
“It’s not evidence-based. It’s simply I think off the back of her election. She wants to look tough for Queensland residents,” Mr Hazzard told the Today show.
“If she keeps this up and we don’t have a vaccine, we don’t have a treatment this could go on for years. This is a silly game you should be playing. She’s playing with people’s lives.”
Ms Palaszczuk has said she will consider opening her state’s southern border on November 1 if NSW keeps community transmission to a minimum for 28 days.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has previously criticised the tough stance, saying it involved “unrealistic expectations”.
A 12-day run with no community transmission ended on Wednesday, and since then the virus cases have been mounting in NSW.
The state announced 12 new virus cases on Thursday, one more than Victoria’s 11 new infections.
Asked if he was confident health workers would be able to trace everyone involved in the new clusters, Mr Hazzard said “our tracers do an incredible job. If it can be done it will be done. We have to wait and see.”
Mr Hazzard insisted the coming Queensland election was behind Ms Palaszczuk’s decision-making.
“It is a political agenda – it’s as simple as that,” he told the ABC.
“She has just decided she is in election phase and she is playing games with the rest of the community.”
But Queensland officials remained defiant on Friday. Deputy Premier Steven Miles said health officials were closely monitoring NSW’s efforts to contain a community outbreak in south-western Sydney.
“In recent days NSW is reporting similar numbers to Victoria. In fact, yesterday NSW had more cases,” he said.
He said it was disappointing NSW didn’t want to “share the aspiration” to control community transmission, as other states and territories did.
“They’ve effectively given up on that goal of 28 days of no unlinked transmission,” he said.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young said she would continue watching the situation before deciding to reset the 28-day border clock and delay the planned border reopening on November 1.
Queensland has no new cases in the 24 hours to Friday morning.
There are just four active cases in the state and 5555 tests were completed.