Victoria records another day with no new coronavirus cases as Queensland braces for further cases

Victoria has recorded another day with no new coronavirus cases, as Queensland braces for further cases in two outbreaks which have locked down the Greater Brisbane area and thrown Easter holiday plans into disarray.

Victorians are now being urged to call off any Easter travel to Greater Brisbane – a designated red zone – and to the Gladstone region in Queensland and Byron Shire in NSW, which are now orange zones under Victoria’s travel permit system.

Brisbane was declared a Commonwealth hotspot on Tuesday afternoon, after six new cases of community transmission were reported as part of two distinct clusters — with two more cases under investigation — and more than 80 potential exposure sites in Queensland and NSW.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday she believed there were two distinct coronavirus clusters, which spread from an unvaccinated doctor and nurse working at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

Ten cases have been linked to the doctor cluster and eight cases to the nurse cluster since the start of the month.

At least six Victorians are undertaking two weeks of quarantine after they spent time at Tier 1 exposure sites in Brisbane and Byron Bay, but all have tested negative in their initial round of testing.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the country was in the riskiest period since the beginning of the pandemic last year because of the relative lack of restrictions.

“At the moment, we are in a situation where we are as a higher risk as we have been since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.

“We know as we mostly open and there are very few restrictions on our movement, on the things we can do as a society, that means that the outbreaks can spread quickly, and so that’s why that very strong public health response is absolutely crucial at the moment.”

Victoria has not recorded a local case of coronavirus for 33 consecutive days. There remains one single active case of COVID-19 in the state, an flight crew member aged in his 30s who is in hotel quarantine. There were 22,069 test results processed on Tuesday.

The Victorian government has also revealed about 30 passengers who arrived in Melbourne from Brisbane after the Queensland capital was declared a red zone on Monday will be quarantined in the hotel that was at the heart of Victoria’s last COVID-19 outbreak.

Health authorities confirmed on Tuesday that the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport would be reopened after work on the hotel’s ventilation system was completed.

“The hotel has undergone a ventilation assessment, with minor remedial completed this week. The hotel has been approved by the [Chief Health Officer] to resume quarantine activities,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, a new alert is in place for at least a dozen suburbs in Melbourne’s south-east after viral fragments were detected in a wastewater catchment between March 21 and March 25.

Residents of Beaconsfield, Berwick, Clyde North, Cranbourne East, Cranbourne North, Guys Hill, Hallam, Hampton Park, Harkaway, Narre Warren, Narre Warren North, Narre Warren South, Officer and Upper Beaconsfield are all being urged to come forward for testing if they have even mild cold of flu symptoms.

With Matt Dennien, David Estcourt

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