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As Sydney virus rages like wildfire, states trying to track down the embers

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Victorian contact tracers are having trouble nailing down the movements of a Sydney-based removalist team, one of two new COVID-19 scares.

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Two of the three-person crew have tested positive upon their return to Sydney after travelling through Victoria and SA for work last week.

Removalists are permitted to enter Victoria under the state’s border permit system.

The workers made a drop-off to a family home in Craigieburn and a pick-up to another in Maribyrnong on Thursday. Both families of four are isolating and have been tested.

The crew is believed to have immediately departed Melbourne and arrived in Adelaide in the early hours of Friday morning.

But Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar said authorities still did not have a complete picture of their movements within the state.

“The initial version of the stories is not quite tying up at the moment,” he told reporters on Monday afternoon.

“It is taking us a little bit longer than we would like. We are also talking to their employer who is providing fuel cards and logbooks and various other bits and pieces.”

On Monday evening, Maribyrnong’s Ariele Apartments where the removalists stopped on Thursday were listed as varying levels of exposure sites for five days.

The Coles at Craigieburn Central along with the entire shopping centre and a Broadmeadows petrol station were also identified as exposure sites for specific times on Saturday and Sunday.

The removalists had already purportedly left the state by then, meaning the venues are likely linked to two new COVID-19 cases among a family from the City of Hume who recently returned from Sydney.

Those cases will be included in Tuesday’s tally.

Weimar said three of the four family members arrived on a flight from Sydney on July 4 carrying red zone permits, while the other re-entered the state by road last Thursday.

They all tested negative shortly after arrival but two became symptomatic and were swabbed again on Sunday, with the results coming back positive on Monday morning.

The flight has not been added as an exposure site as the three family members tested negative two days later, and all other passengers remain in isolation as fellow red zone returnees.

Weimar said he was not surprised “flying embers” from the Sydney outbreak had broken containment lines after NSW reported 112 new local cases on Monday.

His main concern over the next 12 to 24 hours rests with pinpointing the removalists’ movements to confirm any additional stops on their route from Sydney to Melbourne and onto Adelaide.

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