South Australia gives Covid update
South Australia’s chief health officer Prof Nicola Spurrier is now giving an update.
She says there was an increase in testing in the state yesterday, with more than 4,000 tests.
“But some of that will be people who travelled from New South Wales and either are in quarantine or if they’re not still required to do testing on day 1, day 5 and day 12,” she says.
She also urges all South Australians not to go to parties if they are feeling sick.
“If you get sick, don’t go to the Christmas party. I know you’ll be really disappointed but if you’re feeling sick, the last thing you want to pass on as a Christmas gift to your family is Covid.”
at 12.57am GMT
A woman who attempted to enter Queensland from Sydney will be fined $4,000 after police alleged she gave false information and falsely applied for an entry pass.
Queensland police have turned away 57 cars carrying 115 people attempting to enter the state from Covid hotposts, a spokesman has said.
“There are still significant numbers of people who want to come into Queensland,” he said.
He said one woman attempted to enter at two different checkpoints and has been fined after police alleged she lied.
He also said some people were not aware of the entry rules, and willingly said they were from Sydney.
“We spoke to some of the people and some said they were coming up from Sydney because they were visiting family for Christmas. Clearly they hadn’t read instructions, followed rules.”
Four men charged for starting Fraser Island fires
Police have charged four men with unlawfully lighting fires on K’gari/Fraser Island that started the blazes which scorched more than half of the world heritage-listed tourism drawcard.
Queensland Police and and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service carried out a joint investigation and detectives yesterday charged the four men in their 20s who are all from the Warwick area, 130km south-east of Brisbane.
In a statement police said park rangers were alerted to an illegal campfire on 14 October in the Duling Camp Zone of Eastern Beach, north of Orange Creek.
Rangers found a campfire that was covered in sand but was still warm. Vegetation nearby was on fire.
Queensland police said in a statement: “This wildfire subsequently took hold and over the following weeks burned extensive parts of the world heritage listed island.”
Fraser Island fire: massive blaze on World Heritage-listed site burns for six weeks – video
K’gari is the world’s biggest sand island and draws about 600,000 visitors a year to its 250km of beaches, towering ancient sand dunes, rainforests, crystal clear creeks and dune lakes.
The fire burned about 87,000 hectares of the island, with firefighters dropping millions of lites of water during an waterbomning assault.
A 24-year-old Warwick man was charged with the unlawful lighting of a fire and leaving a fire unattended. Two Rosenthal Heights men aged 21 and 24, and a Massie man aged 23, are each charged with unlawful lighting of fires.
They will appear in Hervey Bay magistrates court on January 21. A 17-year-old boy will be dealt with according to the provisions of the Youth Justice Act 1992.
at 12.51am GMT
Berejiklian says she is frustrated with other premiers who are closing borders to the whole of NSW.
“There are parts of New South Wales completely unaffected by this current outbreak and yet everybody in New South Wales is suffering because other state leaders made decisions,” she says.
Gladys Berejiklian says she will decide Wednesday morning whether restrictions will continue into Christmas
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has said she will still wait until Wednesday morning to announce whether restrictions will continue past Wednesday night, into Christmas.
She says that it still is an “hour to hour” decision.
But she says “the trend is going where we want it to go”.
“Yes, it’s volatile but we’re confident that the strategy we’ve put in place is having the desired effect.”
She adds that the proximity to Christmas makes it more difficult:
Obviously the decision would be much easier if it wasn’t this time of year. If it wasn’t this time of year, the decision would be much easier.
But obviously we will try to consider mental health issues, we need to consider what people are going through as part of that decision as well but we also need to consider what it means for 8 million citizens across the state.”
at 12.52am GMT
Chant is now addressing a venue alert that went out for the Avalon Recreation Centre – which is a testing site on the northern beaches.
People there said hundreds of people were in line and waiting at the testing centre.
Chant says the alert was issued without realising it was a testing site.
“We were trying to get the venue lists out very quickly. That needed probably more assessment before we put it up there,” she says.
“The speed it went up, and someone didn’t recognise it was a testing location.”
She says the person was wearing a mask while waiting for testing.
The person who was positive, who got a positive test result through that clinic was wearing a mask. I’m advised that they’ve got good infection control.
But for the abundance of caution, whenever we have a positive test result, we do a forensic investigation about whether there could have been any lapses or breaches.”
at 12.39am GMT
Chant is asked about hotel quarantine, given two different airport workers have now seemingly contracted the virus from returned travellers in the past week.
“Clearly there’s some leakage in the system,” she is asked.
“We understand that this virus can be highly transmissible and people can be highly infectious,” she says.
“Can I just say it is a credit that we pick up some of these transmission events? Occasional transmission events will occur but, the fact that the person came forward for testing means the system is right in that we can prevent further transmission to the community.
“I don’t think any system can ever guarantee that we won’t have transmission events. Similar situations such as New Zealand have had a number of incursion events as well. It is also about how you surveil, pick them up and respond to them that is important.”
at 12.24am GMT
Victorian case stopped at Gundagai
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant has confirmed that a Victorian, who was visiting the northern beaches and returned home and later tested positive, stopped at Gundagai on the way home.
Earlier, neither the Victorian health minister Martin Foley nor Covid response leader Jeroen Weimar could confirm whether the town was Gundagai or Gunnedah.
“The family stopped at Oliver’s Real Food Outlet at Gundagai, mid- to late afternoon on Wednesday 18 December,” Chant says.
“So advice will be going out to the community in Gundagai who may have also accessed that food outlet”.
Covid detected in sewage in Hornsby Heights
Chant is asking residents near Hornsby Heights to be vigilant for symptoms, after sewage testing showed there were traces of Covid-19 in the area.
“[We] detected traces of the virus at a treatment plant at Hornsby Heights on Saturday December 19. The sewerage system drains parts of Berowra, Cowan, Berowra Heights, Hornsby Heights, Mount Colah, Mount Ku-ring-gai, Asquith and a small part of Hornsby.
“New South Wales Health is aware of two positive Covid-19 cases in the area who are linked to the Avalon cluster … It may be linked to cases in the area but regardless we urge people in those areas to be vigilant for symptoms and attend for testing.”
at 12.19am GMT
A staff member at the Paddington Alimentari Deli and Cafe has also tested positive.
Anyone who was seated there between December 17 to 19 are considered close contacts and should get tested for Covid and isolate for 14 days.
“Takeaway patrons should monitor for symptoms until January 2 and isolate and get tested immediately should any symptoms develop.”
at 12.47am GMT
Some more detail of the Rose of Australia pub in Erskinville, where there has been Covid transmission outside of the northern beaches.
Two people have so far tested positive who had been at the pub.
Chant says that both had dinner there.
“One patron dined there from 7pm to 9pm on 15 December whilst infectious and another diner has tested positive on Sunday and we believe there has been transmission from the first person on to the new case at the venue.
“The second case was part of a work dinner and all attendees at that dinner are being tested but we’re also investigating how the contact between the first and second person occurred.”
at 12.12am GMT
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant says that the case that is not linked to the northern beaches cluster is a healthcare worker from western Sydney.
The person was “involved in the transfer of patients from the international airport”.
A workplace contact of the person has also tested positive and will be included in the day’s tally tomorrow.
“This case has transported several patients but we have identified that they also have transferred positive Covid cases,” she said.
“We are obviously doing urgent genome sequencing to confirm that that is the source of their infection and those results will be available later today.
“A close workplace contact of this healthcare worker has come back positive since the 8pm figures and that will be included in the account for tomorrow.”
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images
at 12.11am GMT