News State NSW News WA, Queensland borders in the balance, despite NSW virus breakthrough
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WA, Queensland borders in the balance, despite NSW virus breakthrough

The WA border was set to open to Victoria and NSW from Tuesday. Photo: Getty
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Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan has delayed making a decision on whether to reopen the border to New South Wales, but says Victorians will be welcome as promised.

Mr McGowan said the latest NSW COVID-19 results are good news, but a final call on when to reopen the border will not be made until Monday.

“It is positive news,” Mr McGowan said on Friday.

“Obviously there’s testing still to be done. The woman in question, the cleaner, spent a lot of time on trains and trams between western Sydney and her workplace and by all accounts was a very gregarious person.

“My expectation is now that we will make a final decision on NSW on Monday so that we take every precaution possible.”

The border to Victoria remains on track to reopen on Tuesday, with the premier advising it should not be affected by the NSW outbreak.

Western Australia is scheduled to open up to NSW and Victoria from next Tuesday, dropping the 14-day quarantine requirement for travel from those states.

The timeline was cast into doubt on Thursday after a Sydney hotel quarantine worker contracted the virus, ending the state’s 26-day streak without a single new community case.

But NSW authorities on Friday revealed the woman appeared to have been infected at work, either by a returned overseas traveller or members of a flight crew.

Mr Hazzard said genomic testing had determined the strain of coronavirus that had infected the woman was new to Australia and is believed to have come from overseas.

“It is highly likely it came from possibly the hotel or possibly aircrew that, of course, can stay overnight, stay for a few days, before they turn around and go back overseas,” he said.

No new local cases were reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.

“It’s a massive relief,” Mr Hazzard told reporters.

 

Mr McGowan said he would be guided by advice from WA’s chief health officer Andy Robertson in making his decision on NSW.

“As you know over the last 12 months, what happens is things change with COVID,” he said.

“In the case of Victoria obviously, in the western suburbs of Melbourne, COVID bubbled away undetected for a considerable period of time and then they had that massive outbreak that caused mass deaths and mass disruption.

“So we just want to be cautious, we want to be careful.”

Federal cabinet minister Peter Dutton earlier said WA should have faith in the ability of NSW to nail down the source of the infection.

“We are talking about a single case,” he told Nine’s Today Show.

“We can’t close down borders … people can’t be forced to cancel their Christmas holidays or reconnecting with family members because of one case.”

Mr McGowan has spoken to NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian to offer support with contact tracing.

“The NSW government is confident they have it under control but we want to see and make sure that the evidence supports that before we make a final decision,” he said.

“Obviously if the chief health officer recommends that we delay opening to NSW, then that is the decision we will make.”

Travellers from NSW and Victoria have been blocked from entering WA for almost nine months unless they went into quarantine and, until recently, secured exemptions.

Travel from South Australia to WA remains prohibited unless arrivals meet strict exemption criteria and isolate for 14 days.

“Obviously I’m sympathetic,” Mr McGowan said.

“This has been a very, very trying and difficult year for everyone.”

Western Australia has not had any community transmission of the virus since April.

Queensland borders remain open for now

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is not expecting further border restrictions over the latest coronavirus case in New South Wales.

Authorities in NSW are still investigating how a worker from hotel quarantine became infected, but Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was “highly likely” to have come from an overseas traveller.

Speaking on the Today show on Friday, Ms Palaszczuk said Mr Hazzard had been in close contact with his NSW counterpart, and confirmed the border would remain open at this stage.

“I don’t think we should be too concerned at this stage. Our chief health officers are speaking regularly, and they’re very happy with the contact tracing that is happening at the moment,” she said.

“We are watching it carefully to see if it turns into a cluster outbreak. At the moment, no need for any concern from anyone.”

-with AAP