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2 Australian states on COVID-19 alert after infected woman's interstate travel

14 Comments
By Renju Jose

Two Australian states are on COVID-19 alert after an infected woman and her husband traveled from Victoria, the epicenter of country's latest outbreak, through the states of New South Wales and into Queensland, visiting dozens of sites en route.

Authorities in New South Wales and Queensland are rushing to trace close contacts and locate virus hotspots. The couple may face criminal charges for breaching COVID-19 border restrictions.

The 44-year-old woman tested positive for COVID-19 once in Queensland, authorities said late on Wednesday, and her husband has since tested positive.

Queensland state Health Minister Yvette D'Ath told reporters in Brisbane on Thursday that the couple's tests suggested they were likely at the end of their infectious period.

"This means the risk is lower than we were expecting yesterday, which is really positive news," D'Ath said. No other cases were reported from the state.

Australia has largely contained all prior outbreaks through snap lockdowns, regional border controls and swift contact tracing, with just over 30,200 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began. It has reported zero cases most days this year.

Queensland has issued alerts for parts of Sunshine Coast, a popular tourist spot, and two regional areas.

NSW authorities said the pair traveled mostly through regional towns over five days last week.

"The message broadly to our regional communities is be on high alert, this is a real and present danger to us, having people who are positive, traveling through our state stopping at multiple venues puts our state at risk," NSW state Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

NSW, the country's most populous state, has not reported any locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in more than a month, while Queensland last reported cases in late March.

Australia on Thursday also reported a 52-year-old woman died from serious blood clots with a low blood platelet count after having the AstraZeneca vaccine, the second death in Australia linked to the vaccine out of 3.6 million doses given.

"We are getting very good at diagnosing and treating this. But in this particular case that was not successful," Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters.

The country has now had a total 35 confirmed and 13 probable cases of the rare side effect. The AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended only for people over 50 in Australia.

The government on Thursday extended a ban on cruise ships entering Australia to Sept 17. The curb has been in place since March 2020, when cruise ships were the source of most of Australia's early COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, Victoria reported four new locally acquired cases, versus one case a day earlier, taking the total infections in the latest outbreak to 90.

The new cases, all from the same household, come as Melbourne prepares to come out of a two-week lockdown on Thursday night, although some curbs on travel and gatherings remain.

Melbourne's five million residents must stay within 25 kms of their homes, a move that could inflict more pain on businesses in rural areas as officials seek to limit community transmission during an upcoming long weekend.

Though Thursday's cases are not linked to any other clusters in the latest outbreak, the lifting of lockdown in Melbourne will proceed due to low-risk levels, Victoria state Acting Premier James Merlino said during a televised media conference.

Separately, New Zealand authorities have moved three Melbourne residents into managed isolation after they boarded their flight from Sydney to beat a travel ban imposed in response to the Victoria outbreak, New Zealand media reported.

New Zealand began quarantine-free travel for Australian travelers in April, a pandemic milestone, but paused the so-called "travel bubble" with Victoria late last month.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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So we now live in a world, where everything gets shut down without notice if 1 person has one particular infection. Insanity.... it is as if they are talking about a new strain of Ebola.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

So we now live in a world, where everything gets shut down without notice if 1 person has one particular infection.

I'm envious of the quality of life the Aussies have had during this pandemic. They've had the most normal lives of anyone in the world. Well, them and the kiwis.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

@Stangerland

I live in Japan and my life has barely changed since the pandemic. I wear a mask every day and wash my hands more often. Other than that - business as usual.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

So it appears that the Australian government is taking this pandemic seriously when there is a single case. However there is no problem sending a softball team two months early to the worlds biggest sporting event in a country with thousands of new daily cases an no vaccines yet. Its confusing. Is this a dangerous disease or not ? Make up your friggin minds!!!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The couple may face criminal charges for breaching COVID-19 border restrictions.

Criminal charges for getting a virus?

Unbelievable!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Criminal charges for getting a virus?

See, this is why right-wingers have lost any credibility. There is nothing illegal about getting a virus, no one is proposing charging her for getting a virus, and the only person saying she is getting criminally charged for getting a virus is you.

The crime may be charged with is violating border restrictions. Which were put in place exactly so people wouldn't cross borders with the virus, potentially spreading it to others - exactly what this lady did.

Or do you feel that the state has no right to prevent anyone from going anywhere they want at any time? Just be honest if you feel this is the case.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Criminal charges for getting a virus?

That is specifically contradicted even in your own quoted text. Do you believe that she would be also in danger of being charged if she catched the virus without moving from her house? because only then your comment would make sense.

There are many examples where people can be subjected to criminal charges related to infections since long before COVID, and the problem is never that they get the disease but what kind of actions they take, who they put at risk and what kind of rules or laws they broke while doing it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It never ends in Australia.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

“It never ends in Australia”.

It hasn’t ended anywhere yet. That’s the point.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It hasn’t ended anywhere yet. That’s the point.

It depends on the threshold we apply.

If zero, it will for sure never end.

But it should not be zero.

Responsible governments allow for a few cases to a few hundred cases a day

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It never ends in Australia.

If you mean lockdowns, they keep ending. And then the Australians keep on living life, going to concerts, rugby matches, pubs, all without masks.

Meanwhile the rest of us are living in a pandemic.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Responsible governments allow for a few cases to a few hundred cases a day

Responsible governments sit back and allow their people to die during a pandemic?

You and I have a different definition of 'responsible'.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Or do you feel that the state has no right to prevent anyone from going anywhere they want at any time? Just be honest if you feel this is the case.

The US Constitution specifically prohibits restrictions on travel within the US. It is a protected right.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Responsible governments allow for a few cases to a few hundred cases a day

Responsible governments nip it in the bud before it even gets to that

Australia lately had been at or near zero cases - keep it that way

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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