In the early hours of Friday morning, Brunetti cafe at Terminal 4 of Melbourne Airport was added to the list of Victorian exposure sites. Anyone who was there between 4.45am and 1.15pm on Tuesday, February 9, must get tested and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result, Victorian health authorities said.
The Melbourne hotel outbreak has been linked to a man who used a nebuliser for asthma in his room. The man is now fighting for life with COVID-19 in hospital.
Health authorities believe all are infected with the more transmissible British variant, which is placing new strains on the state’s hotel quarantine system.
“We don’t shy away from that. This is causing us a significant set of challenges,” said Victorian COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar.
Australia’s Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly on Thursday said he was confident in his Victorian counterparts and that new cases at the Holiday Inn presented no added risk to the community.
However, his comments failed to assure Queensland, which introduced new border controls for Victorians on Thursday, after South Australia announced it would close its border to Greater Melbourne on Wednesday.
Queensland will re-introduce border declaration passes for all Victorians from 1am on Saturday. Anyone who has been in a COVID-19 hotspot will not be allowed to enter the sunshine state.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles, the acting Health Minister, said the provision would allow the state to be “a little bit less reliant on getting information, particularly from airlines”.
WA has also extended its current border restrictions for another seven days. Anyone entering WA from Victoria will need to be tested and enter 14 days of quarantine.
In NSW, health authorities are continuing to screen passengers arriving on flights from Victoria and any person who enters NSW from Victoria by air or rail must complete a passenger declaration form.
NSW Labor health spokesman Ryan Park said any decisions regarding borders should be guided by the relevant health advice.
“We expect the government to pay close attention to the situation in Victoria, especially in regards to the transmission of the UK variant and to take the necessary action to keep people safe and to protect livelihoods,” he said.
Investigations are continuing into the source of infection of a returned overseas traveller from the Wollongong area who tested positive for COVID-19 after being released from hotel quarantine.
Lucy Cormack is a state political reporter with The
Sydney Morning Herald.
Rachael Dexter is a breaking news reporter at The Age.
David Estcourt is a court and general news reporter at The Age.