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Qld down to two active cases as Victoria considers new lockdown


Amid new efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today said there was still “significant concern” about the potential threat from the south.

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Palaszczuk said Queensland’s border closures – due to be reviewed at the end of June – had allowed her government to ease state-based restrictions and boost business activity. But she would not put that in jeopardy.

“The last thing we want is large-scale community transmission here in Queensland,” Palaszczuk told reporters in Longreach.

Victoria’s dire situation has seen the political debate over border policies shift from Queensland’s proposed easing of restrictions on July 10, if not earlier, to whether Victorian borders should now be tightened.

As rates accelerate in other countries, with more than nine million cases worldwide, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt flagged Australia’s international borders remaining closed for some time.

“For the time being we are an island sanctuary,” Hunt told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles today confirmed the number of active cases in the state had fallen from three to two, both of those on the Gold Coast and only one in hospital. The tally remains at 1066.

By comparison, Victoria recorded 17 new cases overnight – 11 of which do not have a confirmed source, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews acknowledging there is “significant community transmission in that”. The state’s tally is 1864 and rising.

Andrews had blamed large family gatherings for the increase in infections in Victorian hotspots and today suggested there were “larger numbers of Victorians who perhaps think this is a new phase and can do things a little differently”.

“We simply can’t pretend that the virus is gone, that the virus is somehow not in our state,” Andrews said.

“It’s here, it travels so fast, it is so infectious.”

The Victorian Premier warned that if people did not heed the warnings, and continued to put themselves and others at risk, localised or state-wide restrictions may need to be re-introduced.

Two Victorian schools have been closed and health authorities were already considering whether to reimpose stay-at-home directions for hotspots across Melbourne’s north and south-east. More testing stations have been opened and health officials are door-knocking affected areas.

Palaszczuk travelled to Longreach to announce $3 million in funding for outback tourism and continue to encourage Queenslanders to holiday within the state.

Miles said Queensland wanted Victoria to get on top of the outbreaks and believed it would. He has previously acknowledged improvements in NSW, which had been critical of Queensland’s border restrictions and is now monitoring its southern border.

“Queensland’s success is what has allowed us to open up, allowed more businesses to open up, allowed more people to get back to work,” Miles said, detailing another boost to elective surgery.

“It’s also what will allow our hospitals to catch up.”

Victoria’s case numbers are now the highest they’ve been in more than two months after seven days of double-digit growth. By comparison, Queensland has mostly had days of zero new cases.

The Victorian spike caused the West Australian government to shelve a plan to open its borders in August and sparked a warning by NSW against visiting Melbourne. It has also prompted Queensland to double down on its cautious approach to borders, however the Northern Territory still plans to lift its restrictions on July 17.

Asked about the figures, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told reporters on Monday: “I think there is a lot of luck in this.”

He said NSW had been better at bringing community transmission under control by using measures such as pop-up clinics in hotspots.

But Murphy said he did not see any reason why Victoria’s cases should force other states to change their plans.

South Australia will send a team of experts to Victoria on Tuesday to help with contact tracing, spending three weeks helping health officials.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has declined to put a date on when the state’s borders will reopen, but internal coronavirus restrictions will be removed by July 18.

Queensland will discuss the Victorian situation at National Cabinet meeting on Friday and make a decision on its border plans at the end of June.

-With AAP

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