NSW Premier Calls for Queensland Border to Open

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
September 15, 2020Updated: September 16, 2020

NSW has recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 as Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared there was “no reason” to keep the Queensland border closed.

Queensland is reportedly considering a rule change that will require NSW to go just 14 days, rather than the current 28 days, without community transmission of COVID-19 before the northern state reopens its border.

Four of the new virus cases recorded in NSW in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Sept. 15 were community transmissions linked to existing cases or clusters, while six were returned travellers who are in hotel quarantine.

This led Berejiklian to declare on Sept. 16 that the Queensland border should no longer be closed.

“If you look at any proposed definition of ‘hotspot’, technically there aren’t any hotspots in NSW, so I’d be arguing there’s no reason to keep the border closed today,” she told reporters.

“There’s really no basis to have the Queensland border shut. I would argue that even the 14-day limit is potentially unrealistic.”

Berejiklian also announced NSW would accept an extra 500 returning Australians each week, provided other states double their intake.

The NSW premier said she was prepared to accept almost 3000 returning citizens per week, with the daily cap to rise from 350 to about 420 people, after reaching an agreement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sept. 15.

Berejiklian, who previously declared her state was doing the “lion’s share” of accepting returned travellers, said her offer was conditional on both Queensland and Western Australia doubling their intake from about 500 to 1000 people.

“It would still only be about a third of what NSW is doing, but it certainly means they’d be sharing the load more,” she said.

Meanwhile, the number of people being tested for COVID-19 in NSW more than tripled overnight, with 19,566 tests completed in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on Sept. 15 compared to the day before.

NSW Health said one previously reported case had now been excluded after further investigations.

One of the new cases is a close contact of a previous case linked to the CBD cluster who had completed self-isolation prior to becoming symptomatic and had previously tested negative. Contact tracing is underway.

Three of the new cases are linked to a staff member from Concord Hospital Emergency Department.

They include a student from Blue Mountains Grammar School who attended school while infectious late last week, a household contact of the student who did not attend school while infectious, and a close contact of the student who is not at school.

Contact tracing is underway and Blue Mountains Grammar School is closed to students in years 10, 11, and 12 until after the school holidays.

“While the number of locally acquired cases recorded in the past 24 hours is low, the virus is likely circulating among people in the community with mild symptoms. As such, the risk of outbreaks and a resurgence of cases remains,” a NSW Health statement said.

NSW Health is treating 92 COVID-19 cases, including five in intensive care, three of whom are being ventilated.

By Gus McCubbing, Maureen Dettre