Border reopening plan faces massive blow

New South Wales' impressive streak of no locally acquired cases of coronavirus has been broken.

Up to 8pm on Tuesday, the state recorded three new cases, all from returned travellers in hotel quarantine - but after that recording period three additional, locally acquired cases were uncovered.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state was still sticking to its plan to only open the border to NSW if it recorded 28 days of zero community transmission, meaning no unlinked cases.

"I haven't heard that (about that NSW case), I'd have to get that confirmed," she said earlier.

"(28 days) is the advice from Dr Young, and it's not just the advice from Dr Young, all of the health professionals got together their proposal…was that 28 days clear of community transmission should have been a national approach, and unfortunately that didn't go to national Cabinet."

Police check cars at the Queensland border with NSW at Stuart Street in Coolangatta. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Steve Holland
Police check cars at the Queensland border with NSW at Stuart Street in Coolangatta. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Steve Holland

Ms Palaszczuk says health authorities would watch NSW "very carefully" over the next fortnight as the state moves into school holidays and the chance of community transmission increases.

"In relation to community transmission, we've always said we want to watch very carefully what happens to NSW over the next fortnight as they go into the school holidays. That's when people are moving around, as well, and they're not just staying around their homes and their neighbourhoods.

"We'll be watching that very very carefully."

The Premier said she was also disappointed with the reported handling of a brain tumour patient who had returned to Queensland from NSW and was ordered to travel in an Uber or taxi with the windows open.

"That's very distressing, and can I say I'm not happy about the way Queensland Health has handled that. I spoke with the Health Minister and the Deputy Premier this morning, he's going to be speaking with the paramedics, and ambulance service about ensuring that transfers can happen.

"Everyone needs to understand that this is an awful situation that people are going through, and I'd ask the health minister to address it."

The new locally acquired NSW cases are not believed to be linked to each other, and are spread across the Parramatta, Camden and Wollondilly - two women and a man, all aged in their 50s.

Contact tracers are racing to identify close contacts of the new cases.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said testing numbers across the state were too low, especially considering the new cases.

"Our suspicions the virus is always lurking in the community are founded - and we wouldn't have said it if we didn't mean it," she said.

The news comes as NSW Health issues an urgent warning to nearly half a million residents living in south western Sydney and the Hawkesbury areas to come forward for testing.

Recent samples of sewage in the areas uncovered traces of the virus, despite no recent cases in the area.

This break in the state's 12-day streak with no community transmission resets the clock for the border between NSW and Queensland to open, which QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said would take 28 days of no locally acquired cases.

Ms Berejiklian delivered a stinging barb to her northern counterpart, suggesting there is no way the state would ever be able to go four weeks with no local cases.



"We have to assume during the course of the pandemic that from time to time, we're always going to have this," she said.

"We're always going to have cases pop up because we're in a pandemic, but also in an economy that is open … where we don't have borders but for Victoria.

"So I say to the Queensland Government, I appreciate you'll probably come out today and say the 28 days is ticking again from the start, but I will put to you - until the end of the pandemic, it's highly unlikely, highly improbable that NSW will ever get to 28 days of no community transmission, because that is not how a pandemic works.

"Queensland and WA have the luxury of closing their borders, so they have a higher chance of having zero community transmitted cases."

Originally published as Border reopening blow after three new NSW cases