Shocking truth behind Melbourne lockdown dodgers
The couple who fled Melbourne during the city's lockdown and drove into Queensland before testing positive to Covid-19 did not have an exemption to enter the Sunshine State, health authorities confirmed.
The pair were reported to have spent several days in regional NSW before moving north to Queensland on June 5. A 44-year-old woman tested positive in Caloundra on June 8, almost a week after she first developed symptoms, while her partner was confirmed as a new case on Thursday.
Queensland still regards Melbourne to be a Covid hotspot, with travellers from the southern state's capital required to complete hotel quarantine on arrival.
The woman and her husband left Victoria on June 1 after a hard lockdown was announced and travelled through regional Queensland centres Goondiwindi and Toowoomba.
On Wednesday, authorities reserved judgment on the two until further information about their declaration and exemption status was revealed, with police emphasising the prime concern was unearthing close contacts of the two.
"Of course we are going to investigate the circumstances of what's happened here," Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.
"We've got a couple that have come from Victoria when Victoria is in a lockdown.
"All the aspects of how that's occurred, including what's happened in the other states, we will do in a co-operative manner with our colleagues in Victoria and NSW."
But on Thursday, Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young confirmed her department had not given the couple permission to forego strict directives.
"No, they didn't come through the exemption process, so it's now up to police to investigate whether they came through any other process," she said.
The couple were both transported to Sunshine Coast University Hospital to be quarantined, while 17 close contacts of the pair were identified, including the famil
The other 15 were at venues at the same time as the couple as they travelled into the state.
"Of the 17 immediate close contacts, three have tested negative already, we've got those results," Dr Young said.
"But we need to continue all of that testing."
Dr Young said it appeared as though the couple were at the end of their illness, which means the risk was lower than initially feared.
"Because I believe this risk is a little bit lower, I haven't asked all of our vulnerable facilities to go into lockdown at this stage," she said.
VICTORIA RECORDS FOUR NEW CASES
Victoria has recorded four new local cases of coronavirus on Thursday as Melburnians prepare to come out of a two-week lockdown.
"The four new locally acquired cases are from the same household and investigations into acquisition source are underway," the Department of Health said.
There are now 78 active cases and 180 exposure sites across the state.
Melburnians will be released from a two-week lockdown at 11.59pm on Thursday, but harsh Covid-19 measures will remain in a bid to keep the community virus-free.
Acting Premier James Merlino confirmed the new changes on Wednesday.
It comes after thousands of regional Victorians were being urged to monitor for Covid-19 symptoms after viral fragments were found in sewage in Bendigo.
Residents and recent visitors to the suburbs of California Gully, Eaglehawk, Epsom, Huntly, Jackass Flat, Maiden Gully, Marong, North Bendigo and Sailors Gully between June 3 and 7 should get tested if any Covid-19 symptoms develop.
The Victorian Department of Health said the detection of fragments of coronavirus was of "interest" as there were no confirmed cases in the area.
Despite the good news that Melbourne will ease out of lockdown, Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton was still cautious.
"We have to recognise it remains a reasonably volatile situation," he said.
"The idea of a snap back to absolutely no restrictions whatsoever, no one has done that after significant community transmission.
"We have to move by increments, safely, but with the minimum restrictions that we know will continue to control this."
WOMAN TESTS POSITIVE AFTER FLEEING MELBOURNE LOCKDOWN
A Melbourne couple have sparked a Covid scare in Queensland after leaving lockdown and travelling to the Sunshine Coast.
The pair are reported to have spent several days in regional NSW before moving north to Queensland on June 5, where a 44-year-old woman tested positive in Caloundra on June 8.
Queensland still regards Melbourne to be a Covid hotspot, with travellers required to complete hotel quarantine on arrival.
NSW Health has released a preliminary list of exposure sites following confirmation that the Victorian woman travelled through country NSW.
The woman and her husband left Victoria on June 1, after a hard lockdown was announced.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said the woman entered Queensland on June 5, passing through Goondiwindi and Toowoomba.
She is staying with family at Caloundra, including her husband, who has so far tested negative.
"The woman was tested yesterday and, it was confirmed today, that it was a positive case," Ms D'Ath said.
Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said: "She could well have been infectious while she was travelling through New South Wales and that is something I've been working my colleagues in New South Wales.
Dr Young said there were more than half a dozen exposure sites, including a McDonald's in Goondiwindi, a service station in Toowoomba and the women's section at Kmart in Caloundra, over three days.
She said contact tracers had so far identified six close contacts and while her husband has not tested positive, he is being monitored in Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
"She has been out and about since she arrived - since June 5," she said.
"Any case of Covid is frustrating.
"The community has had to put up with so much now for 18 months and to do this again, it doesn't matter the cause, any community case of Covid is going to be frustrating for a lot of people."
Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the couple's movements would be examined and they would be questioned on their reasons for travelling into Queensland while Victoria was declared a hotspot.
JACINDA ARDERN'S TRAVEL BUBBLE WARNING
Australians who break the trans-Tasman travel bubble rules will face consequences, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned.
It comes as three Melbourne residents were caught trying to get into New Zealand to attend a funeral during Victoria's coronavirus lockdown.
All three have returned negative COVID-19 tests, but they will still be required to undertake 14 days of quarantine of which they will have to pay for.
Travel from Victoria to New Zealand was halted after the latest Melbourne coronavirus cluster emerged.
New Zealand director general of health Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference on Wednesday that the three drove from Melbourne to Sydney and then flew to Auckland last week.
The family appear to have broken the trans-Tasman bubble rules - which could lead to a $4000 fine or six months in jail - as well as the Victoria lockdown rules.
Ms Ardern said that their mandatory stay in quarantine was a punishment, regardless of whether police pressed charges against them.
"Ultimately they were stopped at the border, and they were put into managed isolation," Ms Ardern said
"That demonstrates that even when we have people who are making a deliberate attempt to get through, that will be picked up.
"There's multiple points in the system where we can pick people up, and in this case, we have."
Asked why they shouldn't be charged, she said "there are consequences".
"To anyone considering breaching the rules that we have in place - in this case, the family has been picked up, and they've been put into a managed isolation facility.
"As for fines, those decisions do sit elsewhere.