Victorian health authorities have held an emergency meeting with their Queensland and NSW counterparts over a woman’s positive COVID-19 case.
The woman and her husband left Melbourne while it was in lockdown and tested positive at the end of her road trip through NSW and into Queensland.
Victoria recorded four new local coronavirus cases on Thursday, from more than 23,000 tests.
Reported yesterday: 4 new local cases and no new cases acquired overseas.
– 20,784 vaccine doses administered
– 23,679 test results received
More later: https://t.co/lIUrl1hf3W
— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) June 9, 2021
Separately, three people were caught flying into New Zealand last week, having also left Melbourne during lockdown and trying to enter the country via Sydney.
The trio are now in quarantine after they were caught on arrival in Auckland. It is understood they planned to attend a funeral, the NZ Herald reported.
While those three travellers have tested negative so far, the woman’s positive test on Wednesday has put regional centres in NSW and Queensland on alert.
Victoria’s health department said an emergency meeting of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee was held on Wednesday night.
It also raised the prospect of Victorian exposure sites related to the woman’s case.
“Any critical information will be provided to the public as soon as possible when case interviews for any potential Victorian exposure sites can commence,” the health department said.
The woman and her husband left an unidentified suburb on the edge of greater Melbourne on 1 June, while the Victorian capital was in lockdown to control community transmission of the virus.
They then travelled through regional Victoria, crossed the border into NSW where they visited regional centres, and then entered Queensland on 5 June – two days after she started showing symptoms of coronavirus.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Wednesday it was possible the woman was infectious from the day she left Melbourne.
Six close contacts of the woman have been identified so far, including her husband who has to date tested negative. The couple are now at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski on Wednesday promised to thoroughly investigate why the couple left Melbourne when a lockdown was in place, and warned that anyone who defied health directives could end up in court.
Regional centres in NSW and Queensland on alert
Regional centres in NSW and Queensland are on alert after the woman’s case was confirmed on Wednesday, with a list of COVID-exposure sites in both states expected to grow.
The woman made stops in Gillenbah, Dubbo, Forbes and Moree on her way to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Eleven venues in the four towns have been identified by NSW Health as potential exposure sites, with more expected.
Among them are two service stations, Moree Woolworths, several cafes and the Reading Cinemas in Dubbo.
Anyone who attended the listed venues must immediately get tested and isolate.
NSW Health is also urging anyone who has been in any of the affected towns to monitor for symptoms and if they have any to get tested.
Pop-up testing clinics will be set up and opening hours extended to support the increase in testing.
⚠️PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT – NEW VENUES⚠️
NSW Health was advised by Queensland Health that two further venues of concern in NSW have been identified as part of ongoing investigations into a #COVID19 case reported earlier today. pic.twitter.com/O4dVEFIjqy
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) June 9, 2021
Queensland’s list of exposure sites include a McDonalds restaurant in Goondiwindi, where they crossed the border from NSW, and sites on the Sunshine Coast, including at Moffat Beach, Kings Beach, Buddina, Baringa and Caloundra.
A full list of locations and times is available on the Queensland Health website.
The couple also travelled through Toowoomba, west of Brisbane. The list of exposure sites is on the Queensland Heath website and will inevitably grow.
The Sunshine Coast region has been sent double the amount of coronavirus vaccine it normally receives and Dr Young has urged residents to get their shots, and front up for testing if they develop symptoms.
Viral fragments detected in Victoria
Also on Wednesday night, the health department said COVID-19 viral fragments had been detected in a wastewater sample taken from a sewer sub-catchment near Bendigo.
The sub-catchment services the country town’s north-west suburbs and residents, plus visitors from 3 to 7 June, are being urged to get tested if they develop symptoms.
The northern states’ scare and news of the Auckland incident came as Melbourne had confirmation its two-week lockdown was on the verge of ending.
On Wednesday, the state government announced Melbourne’s extended “circuit breaker” lockdown will cease at 11.59pm on Thursday, meaning people will be free to leave home for any reason.
But Melburnians will need to remain within 25km of their homes, unless working or studying, care giving or getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Acting Premier James Merlino said the measure was in place to keep Melbourne residents out of regional areas over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
Restrictions will also ease further for regional Victoria from Friday.
Victoria reported just one new local case on Wednesday and it is a linked infection. There were three new cases in hotel quarantine.