Victoria has recorded ten new locally acquired coronavirus infections as the state works to get on top of a growing cluster linked to a Melbourne restaurant.
A further two infections were recorded in returned travellers who are in hotel quarantine.
One was a member of the international aircrew and another was an international traveller, Victorian health minister Martin Foley said.
Currently there are 29 total active cases in Victoria.
Mr Foley said the border from New South Wales to Victoria is closed.
Mr Foley made no apologies for closing the border to its neighbouring state and said it was based on public health advice.
He says it has caused widespread disruption for returning travellers and will continue to do so for the border communities.
“I acknowledge the significant disruption and the significant implications that that has made,” Mr Foley said on Saturday.
All of the infections are linked to the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock — known as the “Mentone-Mitcham cluster” — Mr Foley said.
DHHS COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said the genomic sequencing showed the 18 infections were all connected to the original Northern Beaches-Croydon cluster in NSW.
“At this point in time, all these cases are linked,” Mr Weimar said.
The new cases were detected from 18,337 test results, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said.
Mr Weimar said there was now a “large spatial spread” of exposure sites across Victoria “all the way to Lakes Entrance and just about every point in between”.
Exposure sites were listed in Melbourne, Lakes Entrance in Gippsland and Strathbogie, north of Melbourne, with a site in Camberwell likely to be added to the list today, he said.
Mr Foley revealed two people who fled from authorised officers yesterday who returned to Golden in New South Wales.
They will both be fined at least $19,000 for their breaching public health state-of-emergency arrangements.
The southern state’s border decision on Thursday prompted traffic bottlenecks as people raced to beat the Friday midnight closure.
Once in Victoria, COVID-19 testing sites saw long queues as travellers lined up for mandatory testing.
Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania have all further hardened their borders as a result of fresh cases in recent days.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he respects the decisions of state and territory leaders to shut their borders but understands why people have been left frustrated.
The federal government had aimed for Australia to be fully open by Christmas, a plan dashed by the COVID-19 outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches.