Sydney Braces for Potential Spread of Virus From Queensland

January 8, 2021 Updated: January 8, 2021

New South Wales (NSW) is on high alert for the spread of the contagious UK strain of COVID-19 from Brisbane, where a hotel cleaner caught the mutated virus.

NSW is racing to trace the source of a mystery coronavirus case in Sydney’s northern beaches as Australia faces an anxious wait to see if a highly contagious strain of COVID-19 has spread from Brisbane.

NSW recorded four new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including one that remains under investigation.

Earlier on Friday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Greater Brisbane would enter a three-day lockdown after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was diagnosed with the more infectious UK virus strain.

On Friday night the NSW government implemented a new public health order requiring anyone in NSW who had been in Greater Brisbane since 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 2 to follow the same lockdown rules.

Travellers from the area will only be able to leave their house or accommodation until 6 p.m. on Monday to shop, exercise, work if they cannot do so from home, perform care or seek medical care.

People who have arrived in NSW since Jan. 2 after transiting through Brisbane Airport will not be subject to the requirements.

Anyone already in transit from Greater Brisbane to NSW must abide by Queensland’s isolation rules, and act as if they had remained in Brisbane.

Acting Premier John Barilaro said NSW authorities were working with their counterparts in Queensland but the state was not considering a hard border.

“At no point during this pandemic have we ever had a kneejerk reaction or treated the border like a light switch,” he told reporters on Friday.

Given 80 percent of Australians who are overseas and want to return home are in countries facing the UK strain, and Queensland’s COVID-19 case, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced the government will reduce the number of international arrivals into NSW, WA, and Queensland’s hotel quarantine systems by 50 percent.

A weekly cap in NSW has been set at 1505 people until at least Feb. 15.

Overseas travellers will need to test negative to COVID-19 before departing for Australia, and daily coronavirus testing is now required for quarantine workers.

Meanwhile, NSW Health on Friday night issued new casual-contact health alerts for the Artisaint Cafe at the Crowne Plaza Sydney Burwood and the Burwood Bing Lee on the morning of Jan. 6.

Those who attended Westfield Burwood and several shops inside the complex on January 6 and 7 have also been advised to monitor for symptoms, as have patrons of Costume clothes shop at Avalon Beach on New Year’s Eve.

A prior alert for Sydney Marina restaurant in Pendle Hill has also been upgraded to a casual-contact alert, meaning patrons must seek testing.

The suburbs north of Narrabeen Bridge on Sydney’s northern beaches, meanwhile, have been under stay-at-home orders since before Christmas but that restriction is due to be lifted from Sunday.