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SA locked out, Brisbane Lord Mayor isolates as Adelaide cluster explodes

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The Queensland government will make all visitors from Adelaide undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak in the city, which has cast fresh doubts over all states and territories opening their borders by Christmas.

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk took the advice of Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young to place restrictions on arrivals from Adelaide from 11.59pm on Monday. The South Australian capital has been declared a virus hotspot following the outbreak, which has so far brought 17 new cases.

Palaszczuk and Young urged anyone who had recently returned from Adelaide to self-isolate as a precaution.

“This is a very critical time so we are asking people to do the right thing here,” Palaszczuk said this afternoon.

“We’re monitoring what’s happening, of course, down in Adelaide.”

Among those caught out by the unfolding drama were Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, who has decided to self-isolate for two weeks after returning from a business meeting in Adelaide.

“I’m feeling healthy and well, but will be following today’s Queensland health directive and encourage anyone else who has been in Adelaide … to do the same,” he tweeted.

Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory also announced tough quarantine measures for travellers from SA, while Victoria has opted for stricter screening. NSW will keep its border open.

Palaszczuk said the restrictions were prudent and Queensland would announce the next steps in the review of border controls on November 30.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is confident South Australian authorities will bring the outbreak under control.

He has offered to send Australian Defence Force troops and a national incident centre is being set up.

“If more is required, more will be provided,” Hunt told the ABC on Monday.

“But these are the sorts of challenges that if we trade or engage with the world, if we bring Australians home, we will face, in a world where there’s over half a million cases a day.

“Having these strong testing, tracing and isolation systems are absolutely critical, and South Australia – on all the evidence – does have exactly that.”

The cluster has already caused major disruptions, with Western Australia making a snap decision to reimpose border restrictions.

Hunt said there was no medical basis for any state or territory to remain closed.

He said coronavirus cases were bound to flare up across the country at different times but there were strong systems in place to deal with any outbreak.

Victoria has now gone 17 days without any coronavirus cases or deaths.

But Hunt, who hails from Victoria, is reluctant to give the state government credit for keeping the state in lockdown while bringing a second wave under control.

“We always supported, reluctantly and regretfully, going into lockdown once the contact tracing system wasn’t able to cope in Victoria,” he said.

“There were some differences about the speed at the end, particularly once they were well below their case level that NSW was able to manage.

“We felt that perhaps we had more confidence in their system than they did on the way out.”

He and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are visiting Victoria to announce a new, hi-tech vaccine manufacturing facility will be developed in Melbourne.

The federal government has struck a $1 billion deal with Seqirus, a subsidiary of CSL, to rapidly manufacture vaccines in response to future health pandemics.

The pair will also meet Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and are likely to discuss reopening the Melbourne Airport to returning travellers from overseas.

South Australia has reimposed a range of COVID-19 restrictions as officials battle to contain the new cluster.

Premier Steven Marshall says restrictions on pubs and restaurants, gyms, and limits on various gatherings will come into effect from midnight and remain for at least two weeks.

He says coronavirus testing stations will operate on extended hours and the state’s contact tracing resources have been increased.

“We are now facing our biggest test to date,” Mr Marshall said.

“People are working around the clock to stay ahead of this cluster. No effort will be spared to slow and stop the spread.

“Time is now of the essence. We cannot wait to see how bad this gets. The next 24 hours will be critical.”

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the number of cases linked to the Parafield cluster had not increased on Monday.

But three children from the family at the centre of the outbreak were showing symptoms despite initially testing negative.

The cluster is put at 17 taking the total number of active infections in South Australia to 34.

All of those people are in hotel quarantine, except for two from the new outbreak who have been admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital as a precaution because of their age.

The cluster has been linked to one of Adelaide’s quarantine hotels with three staff at one facility, including two security guards, among those testing positive.

All staff at the quarantine hotels will now be tested weekly.

Prof Spurrier said South Australia was now facing the prospect of a second surge of COVID-19 cases but “we are in the very early days”.

“It looks like we’re in the early part of what could be called a second wave,” she said.

“But we have time to get on top of it.”

The new cases were picked up on Saturday after a woman in her 80s went to Adelaide’s Lyell McEwin Hospital for testing and was hospitalised,

Two of her family members, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 60s, also tested positive.

One of the pair worked in a medi-hotel used by people travelling into the state and local residents who can’t quarantine at home.

Spurrier said testing conducted overnight on Sunday included other members of the 80-year-old woman’s extended family.

“We just kept getting positives coming off the machine,” she told ABC radio on Monday, adding it was clear the cluster was linked to a medi-hotel.

“We haven’t got the genomics yet, but I’m absolutely certain it has come from a medi-hotel,” she said.

The 80-year-old woman lives independently and is the mother of one of the younger pair, who are in a relationship.

Contact tracing is also under way for about 90 staff and patients at the Lyell McEwin Hospital who may have come into contact with the older woman.

The woman had also visited Parafield Plaza Supermarket in Adelaide’s north on Thursday while infectious.

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said while it was impossible to completely eliminate COVID-19 with people returning to Australia from overseas, the goal was to contain the virus in hotel quarantine.

“From the detail I have available at the moment it does appear that these cases have come out of hotel quarantine and that’s that’s very concerning – that’s where the Victorian outbreak started,” he told reporters.

“But it’s very early days, still low case numbers and so I’m sure the chief health officer will be discussing with her South Australian counterpart, and then the health minister and a premier will have more more to say about it throughout the day.”

Miles said people travelling from Adelaide to Brisbane for the State of Origin rugby league series would be affected.

-AAP

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