South East Queensland out of lockdown as Cairns emerges as new hotspot

South East Queensland out of lockdown as Cairns emerges as new hotspot

The South East Queensland lockdown will be lifted at 4pm today, but a positive case active in Cairns has plunged the state's far north into a snap three-day lockdown after it was declared a new COVID hotspot.

Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk, fresh out of hotel quarantine after returning from the Tokyo Olympics, today announced nine new cases with seven of them linked to the Indooroopilly school cluster that led to the current lockdown of 11 local government areas in the state's south-east. The other two were on the Gold Coast and Cairns.

The Cairns infection, a taxi driver, has caught authorities by surprise, leading to a 'hard and fast' response in the state's north.

"We are quite concerned about this," says Palaszczuk. "He's been infectious in the community for about 10 days."

The news comes as NSW today recorded 262 new locally acquired cases and one death, an aged-care resident in her 80s, while Victoria announced 11 new locally acquired cases with all of them not in quarantine throughout their infectious period.

Although lockdown in Queensland's South East will end at 4pm today, some restrictions will remain in place for the next two weeks, while there is a new public health directive for teachers, staff and high school students to wear masks.

"We're not out of the woods," says Palaszczuk. "We are dealing with the Delta strain; it is highly, highly infectious and I can tell you from my conversations in Tokyo and people from around the world, this strain is sweeping the world. We need to make sure we are making some extra precautions."

With the focus on the risks at schools, Queensland has also announced school staff and childcare workers as a high-risk priority group to be added to the 1B priority list for COVID-19 vaccinations. They will be joined by FIFO, freight and distribution centre workers.

"The Delta strain has taken a heavy toll on our schools, and we need to provide the best possible protection for staff and students," says Palaszczuk. "This strain of the virus moves incredibly quickly, and we need to be just as fast in our response."

South East Queensland restrictions

Although the 11 local government areas in the state's south-east are out of lockdown from Sunday at 4pm, some restrictions are still in place. These restrictions will apply to Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Logan City, Redlands, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Somerset, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and the Gold Coast.

  • No more than 10 people are allowed in homes, including those who live there, and in public spaces. Visits to patients in hospital and residents in aged-care facilities are permitted, unless a person is subject to a home quarantine order.
  • Weddings and funerals are allowed a maximum of 20 people.
  • Businesses and venues, including places of worship, conventions centres, retail, dining, gyms, hairdressers, beauty and personal cares services are allowed to operate on the one person per 4sqm rule - or 50 per cent with ticketed or allocated seating for venues.
  • Community sports are not permitted over the next two weeks.
  • Masks must continue to be worn in the workplace and indoor areas where social distancing is not possible.

"If you are living within those 11 LGAs, you can travel within those LGAs but now is not the time to be travelling in regional Queensland unless you are an essential worker," says Palaszczuk. "Please put off plans to visit family and friends for the next two weeks."

Cairns lockdown

Palaszczuk says the positive case in Cairns was 'something we were not expecting' and has urged residents to get tested to determine if it had spread further into the community. A decision on extending the lockdown will be made later in the week.

From 4pm today, Cairns and Yarrabah will be in lockdown for three days with the same restrictions that applied to the 11 LGAs in sSouth East Queensland. Residents in these areas must stay at home except for the following reasons:

  • Obtaining essentials such as groceries or medications
  • Essential work if you can't work from home
  • Exercise within you r local area (within a 10km radius of your home,with no more than one person from outside your household)
  • Healthcare, including to get  a COVID-19 test or vaccination, or to provide help, care or support to a vulnerable person, or for an end-of-life vi sit to a hospital or aged-care facility.

Two visitors are allowed into a home excluding those who live there while no visitors are allowed for those in home quarrantine. Weddings and funerals can take place where they are ordinarily held with a maximum 20 people onsite including those officiating.

Schools and childcare is only open for children of essential workers and vulnerable children while universities and TAFE is online learning only. 

Masks must be worn at all times outdoors including public transport or rideshare unless alone or with members of your household; eating or drinking; doing strenuous exercise or it is unsafe. Masks must be worn indoors including workplaces, even where physical distancing is possible unless working alone in a closed office, you are at your residence and there is no one else there except people you live with; eating or drinking or it is unsafe.

The Queensland Government will be looking at a business support package for those affected in the region. Details have yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, the positive Gold Coast case has Jeannette Young, Queensland's chief medical officer, perplexed.

The positive result had a very high CT value which meant there was high level of virus detected. Subsequent tests have proved negative, and the person's family is now in isolation.

"We're waiting to get a genome sequence on it to see what it might be," says Young. "It is really important that anyone on the Gold Coast with any symptoms at all please come forward and get tested so we can work out what has happened there and whether there has been any spread."

NSW records 262 new local cases

NSW recorded 262 new locally acquired cases over the 24 hours to 8pm last night. The cases include 88 from Western Sydney's Local Health District (LHD), 31 from Sydney LHD, 21 from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, 17 from South Eastern Sydney LHD, 12 from Hunter New England LHD, three from Northern Sydney LHD and two from Central Coast LHD.

The new cases follow a lockdown announced yesterday for the Armidale Regional Local Government Area, covering Armidale and Guyra, from 5pm until 12.01am Sunday 15 August.

Because of the rise in transmissions, 12 suburbs in the City of Penrith LGA will now be part of areas of concern, along with the eight previously identified LGAs, and have additional restrictions from 5pm today. These suburbs, which are adjacent to the Cumberland and Liverpool LGAs, are Caddens, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Erskine Park, Kemps Creek, Kingswood, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, St Clair, and St Mary's.

In line with the restrictions currently in place for Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool and Parramatta LGAs, people in these 12 suburbs must only obtain food or other goods and services, and exercise, within 5km of their home. You cannot travel to other areas for work unless you are an authorised worker.

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