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Hotel quarantine looms for visitors linked to growing number of NSW virus sites

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Unexplained cases of COVID-19 have prompted restrictions in greater Sydney. Queensland health authorities are watching closely.

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After NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian this morning announced social distancing restrictions for the Mother’s Day weekend, the Palaszczuk Government ramped up its own measures to prevent an outbreak across the border.

Almost 20 venues in greater Sydney have been listed as exposure sites and NSW Health expects to add more.

Travellers who had been to any of the exposure sites in greater Sydney are currently required to isolate and get tested. From 1am tomorrow, however, they will be directed into hotel quarantine.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the move would help manage the risks as NSW endeavoured to find the missing link between an infected traveller from the US and a local couple.

“We will be watching and monitoring very closely what is happening in New South Wales,” D’Ath said.

While there are yet to be any broader travel restrictions, D’Ath urged any Queenslanders considering travel to NSW to “consider your plans because we don’t know what’s going to evolve over the next few days”.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she would need to see evidence of the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 to make a hotspot declaration for affected council areas and recommend travel restrictions.

But Young said check-in procedures at venues, and contact-tracing efforts, had improved to such an extent that hotspot declarations had become unnecessary.

“All of the states and territories are really, really quick to act and to find cases at the start of an outbreak,” Young said.

Berejiklian had earlier rejected comparisons between the NSW restrictions and recent lockdowns in Queensland and WA, saying her government was seeking to manage, not restrict, public activities.

However, the exposure sites and restrictions in Sydney have already tripped up some rugby league players, putting a cloud over their involvement in weekend games and potentially the Magic Round planned for Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium next weekend.

Young suggested any players impacted by the Queensland measures would already be dealt with in NSW.

“If there are players who are deemed by New South Wales to be contacts, they then need to stay in quarantine in New South Wales,” Young said.

Meanwhile, Young revealed a 66-year-old man was in Townsville hospital after developing blood clots that the Therapeutic Goods Administration had linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine he had received.

Queensland Health will have Pfizer vaccination hubs established at every hospital service by the end of May, and now has a freezer on Thursday Island to support the priority rollout in the Torres Strait. The vaccine is now preferred over AstraZeneca for people aged under 50.

Young said people deemed at risk of COVID-19 should get vaccinated as soon as possible and heed the advice of the TGA and their doctor as to whether they should have the AstraZeneca vaccine or potentially wait for Pfizer.

Queensland recorded three new cases of COVID-19, all detected in hotel quarantine and including another two travellers from Papua New Guinea.

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