NEWS
22/12/2020 3:14 PM AEDT | Updated 29/12/2020 3:17 PM AEDT

Queensland Enforces Hard Border As Sydney's Northern Beaches COVID Cluster Spreads

NSW recorded seven new cases on Tuesday linked to the Avalon cluster.

New South Wales reported eight new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down on 15 reported one day earlier. Seven of the new cases were traced to a cluster in Sydney’s northern beachside suburbs, officials said.

“The trend is going where we want it to go, where we need to it to go,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

“We’re confident that the strategy we’ve put in place is having the desired effect.”

James D. Morgan via Getty Images
Digital road signs warn against travel to the Northern Beaches in the suburb of Crows Nest on December 20, 2020 in Sydney.

The eighth case was a nurse who is believed to have caught the virus from a traveller returning from overseas, officials said.

NSW health authorities also said a Victorian resident who had been holidaying in the Northern Beaches had also tested positive. 

All Australian states have now moved to close their borders to NSW, with hundreds of police and military personnel deployed to ensure compliance.

Queensland enforced a hard border closure with Greater Sydney on Tuesday.

“We’re concerned about people breaching the rules as they try to come into Queensland,” tweeted the state’s premiere, Annastacia Palaszcuk

“That’s why we’re treating this as a hard border closure with Greater Sydney.”

 

The coronavirus cluster detected in Sydney’s northern beaches suburbs last week has now grown to 90 cases as authorities battle to contain the flare-up just days before Christmas.

The source of the outbreak - which ended a run of nearly two weeks with zero locally acquired coronavirus cases nationally - is believed to have been a returning traveller from the United States.

Gaye Gerard-Pool/Getty Images
Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian looks on during a press conference to provide an update on the COVID-19 situation on December 21, 2020 in Sydney.

NSW locked down the northern beaches, home to more than 250,000 people, for five days from Saturday, prompting other states to close their borders and throwing Christmas plans for thousands of families into chaos.

The restrictions are set to be reviewed on Wednesday, and Berejiklian said the decision whether to remove curbs and allow families to gather for Christmas was still too close to call.

The state government is watching to see if the outbreak spreads beyond the northern beaches area, with record rates of testing - almost 45,000 were conducted in the past 24 hours - helping to determine if restrictions can be lifted.

Regi Varghese via Getty Images
Long queue of motorists who are entering Queensland from New South Wales through the border checkpoint on December 21, 2020 in Coolangatta, Gold Coast, Australia.

Virus carriers have visited more than 100 venues around the city of more than 5 million people, including restaurants, cafes, gyms and post offices, heightening the risk of wider community transmission. 

All Australian states have now moved to close their borders to NSW, with hundreds of police and military personnel deployed to ensure compliance.

The outbreak has also seen the annual Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race cancelled for the first time in 76 years, while the cricket test between Australia and India scheduled to start at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 7 is under threat.

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