Ben SmeeMon, 29 March 2021, 8:05 am
A number of states have slammed their borders shut to Queenslanders as greater Brisbane enters a snap three-day snap lockdown after authorities discovered four new locally-acquired coronavirus cases.
Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, on Monday described the growing cluster of seven cases as “significant community transmission” of the UK variant. She warned people in greater Brisbane to stay home over the coming days.
Of the four cases announced on Monday morning, two are colleagues of a 26-year-old landscaper from Stafford, in Brisbane’s north, who tested positive on Thursday night.
One is a nurse who worked at the Covid-19 ward at the Princess Alexandra hospital in south Brisbane. She had been on leave and not received a vaccination. Authorities are “not sure” whether she was infected at work. The final new case is the nurse’s sister.
Under the Brisbane lockdown – which started at 5pm on Monday – people are only allowed to leave their home for essential reasons including grocery shopping, work if they cannot work from home, medical care and exercise.
Schools will be closed and masks will be mandatory outside of the home.
It is the second time this year greater Brisbane – which includes the Logan, Ipswich, Redlands and Moreton Bay council areas – has been subject to a snap lockdown.
The lockdown announcement came four days after the detection of the first case and follows communication bungles by Queensland Health, which wrongly claimed that a man held a house party after being told to isolate.
Authorities said one of the newly acquired cases visited the central Queensland city of Gladstone from 25 to 28 March. Two of the cases – the nurse and her sister – are understood to have visited Byron Bay while contagious. They attended a number of venues in the Byron Bay area – including the Byron Beach hotel and the Farm – from Friday 26 March to Sunday 28 March before returning to Queensland.
“This is going to be part of the Australian way of life until everyone is vaccinated,” the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said on Monday.
“By declaring greater Brisbane a hotspot, I’m asking all other state and territory leaders to do exactly the same and hopefully, fingers crossed, like our last three-day lockdown, it [will give] our contact tracers the opportunity to get on top of everything.
“This is a huge job now that we have to do because we’ve got more of this community transmission. I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives but we’ve done this before and we’ve got through it over those three days in the past, and if everyone does the right thing I’m sure we will be able to get through it again.
“Can I also please put out to everybody: please do not go and panic buy. The supermarkets, the shops, are full of supplies and you will still be able to go out and get food as part of this lockdown.”
Young said anyone who has been in the Brisbane region since 20 March – nine days ago – should follow the same protocols as residents.
The NSW government said people who have been in greater Brisbane since 20 March who were now in NSW “must comply with the same stay-at-home restrictions that apply to greater Brisbane”.
The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said: “I’m confident in what we’ve put in place at this stage but it is an evolving situation.”
NSW’s chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said 1,321 people who had been at the Byron Beach hotel on Friday evening had been messaged about potentially being in contact with the infectious pair. NSW Health had also contacted 166 people who had been at the Farm on Saturday morning.
The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said anyone who had been in contact with people from Brisbane should be “cautious” and get tested as soon as symptoms developed.
Western Australia slammed shut its border to everyone from Queensland from midnight on Monday. “Travel from Queensland will no longer be permitted, unless you are an exempt traveller,” the premier, Mark McGowan, said in a statement.
Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory all effectively shut their borders to people travelling from greater Brisbane. People travelling to the ACT will need to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Victorians in Brisbane can apply to return home but will need to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive. The same situation applies to South Australians who have been in greater Brisbane.