Queensland’s first community Covid-19 case in 113 days has sparked a three-day lockdown for greater Brisbane.
It comes a day after Air New Zealand’s first quarantine-free flight from Auckland to Brisbane took off.
Today the state has recorded nine new cases – all in hotel quarantine – from more than 13,000 tests.
An inner Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner has tested positive to the virus’ highly infectious UK variant.
“We know that this UK strain is highly infectious. It is 70 per cent more infectious and we are going to go hard and we are going to go early to do everything we can to stop the spread of this virus,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
This morning, we welcomed our first quarantine-free flight from New Zealand. Looking forward to a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand some time this year .
“Greater Brisbane will be entering a 3-day lockdown. That will be Metro North, Metro South, West Moreton.
“The areas that will be declared Greater Brisbane will be the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands.
“From 6pm tonight, Friday, to 6pm Monday all residents living in those areas will be required to stay at home.
“Think of it as a long weekend at home. We need to do this. I’ve accepted the strong advice from Dr Young.
“If we do not do this now, it could end up being a 30-day lockdown.”
The woman, who is in her 20s and lives in Algester in Brisbane’s south, developed symptoms yesterday and got tested – though health authorities believe she has been infectious since January 2.
She’d worked one shift as a casual quarantine cleaner at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, in Leichardt St in Brisbane’s CBD on January 2 and took trains to and from work.
Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young has urged anyone in Sunnybank Hills, Calamvale and Algester to get tested if they have symptoms.
The new virus variant is “much more transmissable”, epidemiology professor Tony Blakely told ABC Radio earlier this week.
“So not only is it a threat if it gets in [to Australia], but it’s more likely to get in than previous versions of the virus on a traveller.”
Residents living in the suburbs will be permitted to leave their home for essential work, to provide healthcare or support for a vulnerable person, for essential shopping or to exercise.
Households will be allowed two visitors to their home.
Masks will also be mandated for the three-day lockdown.
Air New Zealand’s first quarantine-free flight from Auckland to Brisbane took off yesterday.
Passengers on board the 7.40am flight did not need to quarantine on arrival in Brisbane so long as they filled out an Australia Travel Declaration form saying they have been in New Zealand for 14 days.
Air NZ already operates similar flights to Sydney and Melbourne.
There are now five flights a week between Auckland and Brisbane. Three will be quarantine-free, with the other two for passengers heading to quarantine.
“Quarantine flights are not able to be booked by people beginning their journey in New Zealand,” Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said in a statement this week.
“Our teams have been working closely with authorities in Australia to ensure all agencies are satisfied processes are in place to confidently accept quarantine-free flights, and we thank customers for their patience while we’ve worked with various agencies in Australia to ensure we can keep everyone safe.”
Any passengers who plan to travel beyond Queensland to another state will need to check state and territory travel restrictions and ensure they have the appropriate exemptions and approvals to travel.
People returning to New Zealand from Queensland will still need to quarantine for 14 days on their return.
– Additional reporting, RNZ
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