Queensland has closed its border to Sydney residents after two teenagers with coronavirus lied on their border declaration forms and dodged quarantine.
The 19-year-old women, who flew back from Melbourne via Sydney on July 21 after travelling together, were active in the community for eight days before isolating.
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 lock down as the state tries to avoid an outbreak.
A furious Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said no one from Sydney will be allowed into the state from Saturday, and 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.
Dr Young urged travellers to be honest on their border declaration forms.
‘We need people to tell the truth. That’s all I can say. This has been done to protect yourself as an individual, your family and the community,’ she said.
‘I’m very, very disappointed. It was reckless.
‘They’ve been out and about for eight days with symptoms.
‘I have asked that all the aged care facilities in the Metro South area be closed to visitors and have enhanced screening of staff and that staff are not to work across multiple facilities.’
Dr Young said shopping centres and schools will now be closed for 48 hours while deep cleans are undertaken.
She urged for anyone who lives in the Logan and Acacia Ridge areas who have symptoms to get tested.
A list of all the locations the women have visited in the past eight days will be provided on Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities are now conducting a criminal investigation into whether the women lied on their border declaration form about where they had been before entering Queensland.
Queensland shut its borders to all people from Victoria on July 10 after the southern state’s cases escalated.
Returning Queenslanders who have spent any time in Victoria in the 14 days before coming home must quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.
State Disaster Co-ordinator and Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the women should have been in quarantine.
‘At this stage, the initial investigations indicate there are incorrect details on border decoration passes … the investigation will look at whether that was deliberate or otherwise,’ he said.
If they are found to have deliberately lied on their border declaration, the women are facing thousands of dollars in fines or six months in jail.
The cases have forced a private school, where one of the women worked as a cleaner, to close for disinfecting.
Parklands Christian College Principal Gary Cully said the school has worked with Queensland Health to identify a number of other staff members who need to isolate as a precaution.
‘We believe that the person in question has had limited contact with students and the wider college community,’ his statement said.
‘Our children and staff are like family, and we are doing everything possible to keep them safe now and in the future; that includes fully co-operating with (the) Metro South Public Health Unit.’
A fever clinic will be set up at the college – which caters for students from prep to year 12 – for testing of students, other employees and any concerned community members.
Queensland has six active COVID-19 cases.
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.