News State NSW News Northern Beaches virus cluster grows to 28 – and spreads to Queensland
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Northern Beaches virus cluster grows to 28 – and spreads to Queensland

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The scene at Sydney Airport on Friday morning. Photo: Twitter
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There are now 28 coronavirus infections linked to the cluster spreading across Sydney’s Northern Beaches – including a person who has travelled to Queensland.

Another 10 cases were linked to the outbreak on Thursday morning.

It came as NSW Health confirmed the cluster is an international strain of COVID-19 – and authorities still do not know how it got into the community.

Eight of the most recent cases are from Northern Beaches, and all are linked to the Avalon cluster. The other two are residents of south-east Sydney, and are also linked to the Avalon cluster.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Avalon RSL, which was identified as a venue of concern for anyone who attended on December 11, appeared to be a place of “signficant seeding”.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the Queensland case had been identified through contact tracing.

The woman, aged in her 50s,  flew to Brisbane on Virgin Australia flight VA925 on December 16. She also travelled throughout south-eastern Queensland before returning to the Northern Beaches.

  • See Queensland’s latest health updates here
  • See the current NSW Health venue alerts here

Residents of the Northern Beaches have been asked to avoid all non-essential travel for at least three days, to allow contact tracers to get on top of the worrying outbreak.

Ms Berejiklian flagged the likelihood of further restrictions if authorities could not control the outbreak.

“If we get on top of this in the next two or three days, all of us will be able to have a better Christmas,” she said.

“If we don’t get on top of it, it could mean further restrictions down the track.

“We don’t want to go for that. We want to see what we can manage with the existing guidelines.”

northern beaches cluster
Locals queue for COVID testing at Avalon Recreation Centre on Friday. Photo: Getty

Airport chaos as Sydney residents flee

There was chaos at Sydney airport on Friday morning as crowds of would-be travellers tried to beat the sudden border restrictions threatening Christmas plans.

Hundreds of people made a dash for the airport early on Friday as almost every Australian state and territory moved to impose travel bans on Sydney-siders after the emergence of the Northern Beaches coronavirus cluster.

The situation was evolving quickly as more details emerged about the mystery outbreak, which reached 17 positive cases by Friday morning. Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned NSW residents to “brace themselves” ahead of a NSW Health update.

Victoria said its rules for NSW travellers were being reviewed hourly as it monitored the Sydney situation. Other states, including Western Australia, have already ordered arrivals from Sydney into 14-days self-isolation – for one group of travellers late on Thursday, that order came partway through their flight to Perth.

On Friday, standing in a lengthy queue for a COVID test in inner-city Randwick, Sydney-sider Andy Ryan summed up the fears of many.

“I think everyone is really just expecting those rules and restrictions that are in place currently to change quite drastically by the end of the day … Everyone is assuming the borders will be shut,” he told the ABC.

“I think everyone is really trying to avoid Melbourne – no one wants a Melbourne on our hands and there are similar trademark signs of that developing now.”

Travel restrictions imposed by other states and territories on NSW residents were changing quickly on Friday morning.

These are the current requirements (as at 11am AEDT):

Western Australia

Anyone who enters WA from NSW must self-isolate for 14 days. Those already in WA must self-quarantine for 14 days, starting from the date they were last on the Northern Beaches.

South Australia

Anyone recently arrived in SA from NSW should self-isolate for 14 days and get tested if they have visited any venues on the NSW Health alert list.

Northern Territory

Anyone who enters NT from Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council area must undergo 14 days of supervised quarantine.

Queensland

Anyone who enters Queensland and has been on Sydney’s northern beaches since December 11 must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days. From Saturday, anyone who has been to the outbreak area and who wants to travel to Queensland will have to go into hotel quarantine.

ACT

Anyone entering ACT who has been on the Northern Beaches since December 11 must get tested and self-isolate.

Victoria

Anyone arriving in the state from Sydney’s Northern Beaches must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.

Tasmania

Anyone who has visited the Northern Beaches Council area since December 11, as well as the Kirribilli Club, Penrith RSL and Gannons Park in Peakhurst at various times between December 11-14, is barred from entering Tasmania. Travel passes for NSW residents wishing to travel into Tasmania have been cancelled – would-be arrivals must confirm they have not visited hotspot areas when they reapply.

See updates on the latest interstate travel rules in response to the Northern Beaches outbreak here

-with agencies