There are fears of another coronavirus outbreak after a man with coronavirus symptoms travelled from Melbourne and allegedly lied to enter Queensland.
A group of three men returning from Victoria on Sunday allegedly lied on their declaration forms at the NSW-QLD road border to avoid entering hotel quarantine.
QLD Police said the three men, aged 29, 25 and 23 from Logan, south of Brisbane, used false ‘G’ pass declarations after spending several weeks in Melbourne.
An investigation was launched into the potential border breach after one of the men reported having COVID-19 symptoms on Monday.
The group were detained by police overnight and taken into hotel quarantine in Brisbane.
All three men were issued with notices to appear in court for failing to comply with the COVID-19 Queensland Border Direction.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Tuesday confirmed the men had been taken into hotel quarantine and tested for coronavirus.
‘We don’t want people to do this, it’s not right.
‘People are obviously lying on the declaration forms. It is undermining all of the great work that Queenslanders have done,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
It is understood any further contact tracing will depend on the group’s coronavirus test results.
Queensland currently has 12 active cases of coronavirus and reported zero new cases on Tuesday.
Seven people are in hospital and 9,900 Queenslanders were tested for coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
But Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles warned on Monday that this week could be make or break for the state as some people may not show symptoms for the next six days.
Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said it was disappointing to see people ‘criminally deceive their way through’ the Queensland border.
‘What they’re doing, by telling lies deliberately, is having themselves charged with criminal offences and now having to front court down the track and then answer for their actions in a court of law,’ he said.
Commissioner Gollschewski said a total of ten notices to appear had been issued for people giving false statements on their Queensland border declarations.
He explained the Logan men ‘had a G pass, which is a pass which declared they had not been in a hotspot, when in fact they had been in Melbourne.’
‘All three have been issued with notices to appear for false declarations and there are ongoing investigations in relation to that matter,’ Commissioner Gollschewski said.
Anyone entering the state is required to fill out a border declaration pass and people who have been in a COVID-19 hotspot within the last 14 days will be turned away.
Queensland residents can return home but must quarantine in government provided accommodation at their own expense.
Anyone providing false information on the declaration risks facing a $4,003 fine or imprisonment.
In a separate case, a man claiming diplomatic status who returned to Queensland and was subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 was actually a security contractor, reinforcing the state government’s call for a review of travel exemptions.
The man had permission to fly to the Sunshine Coast from NSW on Friday without having to go into quarantine.
But on Sunday he tested positive and is now in self-isolation with his wife in Maroochydore as health officials race to contact trace people who sat near him on the Jetstar flight from Sydney.
Queensland Health said the man was given an exemption to enter the state under arrangements agreed nationally in June by Australia’s national cabinet of federal, state and territory leaders.
It’s now been revealed he was not a consular staff member and was in fact a security contractor who had recently returned from Kabul, Afghanistan.
‘The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade wrote to confirm the man was ‘travelling on essential Australian government business’,’ Queensland Health said in a statement released late on Monday.
‘He confirmed he held a diplomatic passport and provided his passport number.’
But, the department said, this turned out to be not quite correct.
‘We are concerned with the number of overall exemptions and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is reviewing criteria and will provide advice to national cabinet,’ it said.
Ms Palaszczuk has said the exemption issue needs to be reviewed.
‘I’m going to raise this at national cabinet,’ she told reporters on Monday.
‘There have been some exemptions. I don’t think the time is right now for those exemptions.’
‘If we can close off any of those loopholes, it will keep everyone safe.’
Ms Palaszczuk said all overseas travellers should be required to go into mandatory hotel quarantine.
The news comes after three women were charged by police after they allegedly lied their way into Queensland from Victoria.
Olivia Winnie Muranga, Diana Lasu and an unidentified friend arrived together in Brisbane from Melbourne on Tuesday, July 21.
All Victorian residents were banned from entering Queensland from July 9, but the women were able to enter the Sunshine State by stopping off in Sydney.
Ms Muranga and Ms Lasu, as well as one of their immediate family members, last Wednesday became the first three cases of coronavirus in the Queensland community since May.
Queensland Police last Thursday afternoon said three women had been charged for allegedly providing false information on their border declarations.
The women could be fined $13,345 or sent to jail for a maximum of five years.
Police said the trio are now cooperating with officers and Queensland Health officials.
The women are in quarantine and will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 28.
Ms Muranga allegedly went to work for two days at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, south of the city, before calling in sick and then going to see a doctor on Saturday, who said to get tested immediately.
Ms Muranga allegedly didn’t go for her test until Monday and instead allegedly continued to attend venues in Ipswich and Brisbane, including a Thai restaurant in Springfield on Sunday and a Southbank cocktail bar on Monday.