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Relief at zero new virus cases but no promises on end to lockdown

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Health authorities have expressed relief at the lack of new COVID-19 cases in greater Brisbane on the second day of a three-day lockdown but stopped short of promising to lift restrictions despite praising people’s willingness to don masks in public and get tested for the virus.

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Queensland recorded no new COVID-19 cases despite a surge in people getting tested. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said more than 19,000 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to this morning.

Palaszczuk thanked Queenslanders for complying with lockdown measures including the mandatory use of masks in public, which she described as “fantastic”.

However, both she and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young refused to be drawn on whether the lockdown would be lifted if the state again recorded no new cases on Monday.

“Let’s get the numbers,” Young said.

Queensland Police have adopted a light hand in enforcing restrictions, preferring to hand out more than 700 masks rather than fine people for non-compliance.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said there had been just 21 breaches of restrictons since Friday, describing compliance as “exemplary”

However, he said police had to be called to a small part at a residence in New Farm that was in breach of rules restricting visitors to homes to two people.

The highly contagious UK variant has potentially been active in the community since January 2 but no locally acquired cases have yet been detected.

Queensland is on high alert after a cleaner at one of Brisbane’s quarantine hotels was initially diagnosed with the UK virus strain.

Palaszczuk said a total of 147 close contacts have now been identified with 112 testing negative to date.

Residents in the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redlands must stay at home until 6pm on Monday except for essential work and shopping, exercise, to access healthcare or look after the vulnerable.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath reminded non-essential workers in Greater Brisbane to stay home.

She asked potential contacts of the cleaner and a second woman, who tested positive to the UK variant and flew from Melbourne to Queensland, to come forward.

Precise times and locations are available on Queensland Health’s COVID-19 website.

“If you have been to any of these sites in Maleny or South Brisbane or in the city on the train on that particular day, or the Jetstar flight, please come forward so we can assess whether you’re a close contact and you need to go into quarantine and get tested,” she said.

NSW recorded three new locally acquired cases of the coronavirus, as thousands of Sydney residents in lockdown since before Christmas have woken to new-found freedom.

The three new cases, two linked to the Berala cluster and one to the northern beaches cluster, are all close contacts of known cases.

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