Sydney Declared Virus Hotspot, Triggering State Visitor Ban

Australia’s most-populous city has been declared a coronavirus hotspot, with Queensland state announcing it will close its borders to all visitors from Sydney on Saturday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision on Wednesday came after two 19-year-old women tested positive for Covid-19 following their return to Queensland from visits to Melbourne, the center of Australia’s resurgence in the pandemic, via Sydney. The pair had failed to isolate for 14 days as required on their return.

The two women circulated in the community for eight days before testing positive to Covid-19, triggering the closure of a school and an aged-care facility that they visited for two days, in order for deep cleaning to take place.

“The next 24-48 hours is crucial in Queensland because we need to be making sure that any of those people who may have come into contact with the two confirmed cases need to go into quarantine and also need to be tested,” Palaszczuk told reporters.

Police Inquiry

Palaszczuk said she was “absolutely furious” with the breaches and the two women would be investigated by police for allegedly giving misleading information to authorities.

New South Wales state, which has Sydney as its capital, recorded 19 new cases of the virus on Wednesday.

Victoria state, where the capital Melbourne was forced into a second lockdown, on Tuesday reported 384 new cases and 295 on Wednesday, down from Monday’s record of 532 new cases.

The state said Tuesday it will suspend all but the most urgent elective surgeries in Melbourne as it seeks to free up hospital beds and nurses to fight a spike in cases in aged-care homes.

As of Wednesday, Victoria had 804 cases connected to aged-care, and seven of the nine fatalities posted in the previous 24 hours were connected to the sector.