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Quarantined traveller ‘jumped balconies, broke door’ to escape, see mum


A woman who allegedly escaped hotel quarantine in Cairns to visit her mother is now staying in the watchhouse. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says there are rules for a reason.

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Palaszczuk today reported six new cases of COVID-19, all but one detected in hotel quarantine. The only community-acquired case was linked to a man whose infection was reported yesterday, as part of a broader Alpha cluster, with 49 active cases.

The new community case is a student nurse at Griffith University, doing clinical placement at Logan Hospital, but has been on holidays and asymptomatic. She recently visited a patient for an hour but they have tested negative.

More than 5,000 people are now in home quarantine in Queensland, facing random police checks, and more than 3,000 in hotel quarantine. Masks are mandatory and social distancing restrictions remain.

A Sydney woman was last night arrested in Cairns after allegedly escaping from the Pacific International Hotel on the fourth day of her mandatory 14-day stay.

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the woman, 32, was “fairly motivated” and allegedly scaled two balconies, went down an external staircase and kicked in a door to leave the hotel.

Gollschewski said the woman, who has so far tested negative for COVID-19, was located last night at her mother’s house nearby, having been out of quarantine for up to a day.

“Quarantine can be very difficult for some people, particularly if they’re by themselves,” he said.

Palaszczuk urged travellers and Queenslanders to continue following the rules, reiterating that another six cases had been detected in hotel quarantine and parts of the state had only recently emerged from lockdown.

The Premier has faced mounting criticism for highlighting the threat posed by Australians travelling overseas while planning her own trip to Japan as part of Queensland’s bid for the 2032 Olympics. This is despite last week lobbying, successfully, for the cap on arrivals to be reduced to take pressure off hotel quarantine.

Palaszczuk said she was still pushing for vaccinations to be required for international travel – she recently received her second dose of Pfizer – and would not travel if there was another lockdown.

A petition calling for Palaszczuk to be barred from travel to Japan has attracted around 30,000 signatures. Today, she said that while she understood the sentiment, the trip with Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Federal Sport Minister Richard Colbeck was necessary demonstrate the cross-government support for Queensland’s Olympic bid.

“People are entitled to their views, I understand their views, but this is the biggest opportunity that Queensland’s ever seen,” Palaszczuk said, referring to the potential economic benefits of Queensland hosting the Olympics.

“We’re never going to get that opportunity again and I’d hate to see it fall at the last hurdle.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was initially expected to represent the Commonwealth on any such visit but withdrew. He supports the Olympic bid, and is considered unlikely to prevent the three politicians and three staff from leaving the country, particularly given the number of Commonwealth exemptions already being granted.

The trip would take place within weeks, and as NSW continues to grapple with an outbreak that has Sydney in lockdown.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard today said authorities were on “high alert” after the state recorded 35 new infections, and could not rule out the lockdown having to be extended. Today, NSW reported another 18 community-acquired cases.

There are concerns about a growing cluster at a Sydney nursing home where five residents have already tested positive, amid reports a third staff member has been diagnosed with the virus at the SummitCare home at Baulkham Hills in Sydney’s northwest.

Hazzard likened the rush to secure more vaccines to “the Hunger Games,” and Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath today warned that the state could be down to a single day’s supply by the end of August if the Commonwealth did not fast-track Queensland’s Pfizer shipments.

D’Ath said Queensland Health continued to prioritise frontline workers and at-risk groups, and reiterated that younger, healthy people might have to wait until October or November for their first jab.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg signalled a shift to focusing on preventing hospitalisation, serious illness and fatalities seen elsewhere in the world.

“Ultimately, we can’t eliminate the virus,” Frydenberg told reporters in Melbourne.

“We have to learn to live with the virus.”

Queensland’s 49 active cases is the highest since mid-April, however the Delta variant has not spread as far and fast as initially feared.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she believed contact tracers, and Queenslanders following the rules, had helped contain the latest outbreaks.

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