Victoria has gone 39 days without a new local coronavirus case, a day after it resumed welcoming international arrivals back to Melbourne.
The latest zero day comes after 235 people arrived back in Melbourne from overseas to begin hotel quarantine on Monday – at least one of them apparently showing COVID symptoms.
That traveller was taken to a “hot” hotel – accommodation specifically set up under Victoria’s rebooted quarantine program for people who have virus symptoms or complex medical needs.
Despite fears it could put an end to Victoria’s streak of virus-free days, the Department of Health of Human Services said on Tuesday there were no new locally acquired or overseas cases to report from 7043 test results, and no deaths.
DHHS also unveiled a new-look tweet on Tuesday, adding columns for “acquired overseas” infections and “possible cases under review” to the daily update that has gripped Victorians throughout their second wave and the recent extended run of days without new cases.
Both remained at zero on Tuesday.
NSW also extended its run of days without local COVID infections on Tuesday. It had six new cases in returned overseas travellers.
The first overseas travellers to return to Melbourne since early July came on flights from Colombo, Doha, Hong Kong, Manilla, Singapore and Tokyo on Monday.
Another five flights from Singapore (two), Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.
Police Minister Lisa Neville, who is overseeing the new quarantine program, said the government had been preparing for five months.
“I’m absolutely confident that this program is robust and is going to deliver what we said it will,” she said.
Ms Neville said the only issues so far had been minor, involving one traveller trying to get a treadmill delivered to his hotel room and others trying to order large amounts of alcohol.
“Not wanting to be mean but we felt that’s probably not in their best interest,” she said.
Victoria has set a weekly cap of 1120 passengers, who will have to pay for their mandatory 14-day stay in hotel quarantine.
The fee will be set at $3000 per adult, $1000 for each additional adult in a room and $500 for children aged between three and 18. That is the same as the charges in NSW and South Australia.
The government will introduce legislation to parliament on Tuesday to impose the fee on travellers. It has received legal advice it will be able to charge retrospectively.
Most passengers on Monday were taken straight from the tarmac to the Pan Pacific and Park Royal hotels. Those with symptoms or complex medical needs went the “hot hotel” Novotel at South Wharf.
Under the rebooted program, Victoria Police is in charge of all aspects of security within the hotels. Officers are being assisted by about 170 Australian Defence Force personnel.
It comes two after two travellers flying from Tokyo failed to enter mandatory quarantine in Sydney and boarded Virgin flight VA838, which landed in Melbourne at 1.25pm on Saturday.
The pair – a 53-year-old woman and 15-year-old boy who are German-Australian dual citizens – tested negative to COVID-19. They were retested on Monday and again returned a negative result.
More than 170 passengers and crew, as well as a handful of airport staff, who were forced to self-isolate were told they could leave quarantine after the results.
Elsewhere, travellers from NSW and Victoria were touching down in Western Australia on Tuesday without the need to quarantine for the first time in almost nine months.
SA travellers will no longer require exemptions to enter WA from the end of this week, although they will still need to self-quarantine.
Queensland will open up to Adelaide this weekend as long as there are no unlinked cases in the coming days.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has warned the state’s hard border could return in a heartbeat if circumstances changed.