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Coronavirus-infected women lied about flying from Melbourne

A coronavirus-infected teenager enjoyed trips to a cocktail bar and a Thai restaurant after returning to Queensland from Melbourne and lying about where she had been. 

There are fears Olivia Winnie Muranga and Diana Lasu’s extraordinary disregard for COVID-19 rules could spark a Victoria-style outbreak in Queensland, which recorded its first community transmission in two months on Wednesday. 

The pair, both 19, arrived together in Brisbane from Melbourne via Sydney on July 21 and made false declarations on their border paperwork.

They are expected to be fined $4,000 each.

A third woman who travelled with the women from the Victorian capital has already been fined and is awaiting her test results for coronavirus.

It is believed all three lived the high life around Brisbane for eight days, going to work, visiting restaurants and bars.  

A third woman who tested positive to coronavirus yesterday is believed to be the 22-year-old sister of one of the teenagers. 

Ms Muranga went to work for two days at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, south of the city. 

She called in sick and went to see a doctor on Saturday who told her to get tested immediately.

She didn’t do so until Monday. 

Instead she continued to attend venues in Ipswich and Brisbane, including going to a Thai restaurant in Springfield on Sunday and a Southbank cocktail bar on Monday. 

On Thursday Queensland’s Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the women are now involved in an ongoing police investigation. 

‘There was actually three involved not two, we have initiated action against one, the other two remain under investigation, and then there is another person who has tested positive for COVID,’ Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

‘So at the moment we have two people who have been to Melbourne and back that have tested positive, the other one is not yet positive, that person has had action initiated against them and the other two remain under investigation.’

Authorities will probe how the women were able to travel from Melbourne to Brisbane despite the border closure, and whether they used fake names and contact details on their declaration passes. 

Investigators will also probe whether the women were at party during their stay in Melbourne which was attended by about 20 people.

The gathering was broken up by police, who issued fines totalling $30,000. 

Ms Muranga is a cleaner at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge. 

The school’s principal Gary Cully confirmed a coronavirus-infected cleaner worked for three days last week.

‘The staff member was on site last week and then rang in sick and then that’s when the trace program started,’ Mr Cully told The Courier Mail.

‘As far as I’m aware they were not symptomatic while they were onsite and then called in sick the following day and then the next week were tested.’  

Shopping centres, restaurants, a school, and a church they visited will shut while authorities scramble to conduct contact tracing.

Scores of the women’s contacts will be forced to isolate, and aged care facilities in the Metro South Health region will re-enter lockdown.

The incident prompted Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to announce all Sydneysiders will be banned from entering the state from Saturday.

‘There will be a thorough police investigation here but now we have to act as a community and in the areas where the chief health officer says need to be closed, will be closed and I urge people in those areas when that list goes out later on today to please ensure that if you are feeling sick you must go and get tested,’ she said. 

Queensland residents returning will have to isolate in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young called the pair ‘reckless’ and said she was ‘very disappointed’.

The teens travelled on flights VA 863 and VA 977. Queensland Health contact tracers are identifying close contacts from those flights.

Health Minister Steven Miles said there was a large amount of contact tracing that needed to be done with the community as well.

‘These young women have gone about their business within the communities that they live in and so there will be a large amount of contact tracing to be done, largely within it the Logan and Springfield areas, including shopping malls, restaurants and a church.’

One of the women attended the Orion Springfield Central in Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane, on Sunday where she dined at the Peak Thai restaurant about 6.30pm.

The pair’s entry into Queensland is the subject of a criminal investigation, with penalties for lying on your declaration form incurring fines of $4,003 or six months in jail. 

‘Initial investigations indicate there were incorrect details on border declaration passes,’ Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

‘This highlights why you need to declare if you’ve been to Victoria where there’s been a high instance of community transmission.

‘You need to think about those around you – not just yourself.’  

The COVID-19 positive sister of the teenager is an employee of YMCA Chatswood Hills Outside School Hours Care in Springwood.

Both the school care service and the associated Chatswood Hills State School have been closed for cleaning.

There are now eight actives cases left in Queensland following three new cases on Wednesday. 

Victoria recorded 384 new coronavirus cases and six more deaths between Tuesday and Wednesday’s daily updates.

There are 4,774 active cases, including 414 health workers. The state has suffered 83 deaths in total, only one less than the rest of country combined.

A total of 206 people are in hospital, with 45 in intensive care.

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