News State Tasmania News ‘Very welcome news’: No fresh COVID cases as southern Tasmania endures second day of lockdown

‘Very welcome news’: No fresh COVID cases as southern Tasmania endures second day of lockdown

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Tasmania is breathing a collective sigh of relief, with no COVID-19 cases detected as a result of testing the primary contacts of a coronavirus-infected hotel quarantine escapee.

The island state’s south, including Hobart, was forced into a three-day lockdown on Friday evening after the case, a NSW man, spent about 18 hours in the community.

The 31-year-old, who arrived in the capital on Monday night without a valid border pass and was ordered into quarantine, has refused to co-operate with contact tracers.

He was arrested in the city’s northern suburbs on Tuesday afternoon after fleeing the Hobart Travelodge before testing positive.

Health authorities say it is still too early to tell if the lockdown can be lifted on Monday evening as planned.

So far, no positives

Premier Peter Gutwein was more forthcoming, describing Sunday’s all-clear as “very welcome news”.

He said 168 primary close contacts of the man had been identified. Of them, 95 have returned negative results.

Mr Gutwein said Saturday had been another record day of testing for the state, with a total of 1769 results processed. No new exposure sites have been identified.

Pushed to say whether Monday would likely see a return to normal for southerners, Public Health director Mark Veitch declined.

“We’ve not identified any cases but we have about half the close contacts to get information on,” he told reporters.

“I’ll be in a much more confident position tomorrow.”

Critical period

Mr Gutwein said on Saturday the next 48 hours remained critical and asked all Tasmanians in the south to work together to get on top of the situation as quickly as possible.

The infected man, who flew into Hobart via Melbourne, has been fined $3000 for the breaches.

Mr Gutwein said on Saturday he wanted police to “throw the book” at him, saying the penalty did not fit the crime.

“This is a breach that has brought southern Tasmania to a standstill,” he said.

Tasmania Police say the circumstances of the man’s case will be examined once the public health response has concluded.