NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has accused Queensland of “thinking up every excuse” to keep its borders shut as three new cases threaten to derail a proposed reopening.
Queensland has given NSW Health officials 48 hours to determine the source of three new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in western Sydney that ended the state’s 12-day streak of no community transmission.
Queensland has said it was willing to reopen its border to all of NSW on the condition it achieved 28 consecutive days of no locally acquired cases from mystery sources.
If the clock on the timeline resets today, the earliest NSW residents can hope to return to Queensland is November 4 — only if there is no community transmission before then.
NSW contact tracers are now in a race against time to identify the source of yesterday’s three new cases in Parramatta, Wollondilly and Camden.
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“The contact tracers in NSW will have 48 hours to see if they can scientifically link these cases to existing clusters,” Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said.
“I really hope they can and, if they can, it won’t have any effect on our timeline.
“As far as we know for now we are still on track for that review towards the end of the month and a potential reopening on the first (of November).”
This morning Ms Berejiklian rubbished the 48 hour deadline, accusing Queensland of making up rules as it went along.
“I’m not going to waste my time trying to change is what clearly is a predetermined position. Because they keep changing the rules on us,” she told Channel 9’s Today.
“The Queensland government keeps changing the goalposts. I’ve never heard of this rule where you have to have two days to make sure you link your cases to an existing case.
“I mean, that’s just something they plucked out of, I don’t know where. I’ve never heard that advice before.”
Ms Berejiklian told 2GB Queensland’s expectation was “unrealistic” as it took time for genome testing to establish the source of infections and links to known clusters.
“It might take a couple of days for that to occur, if and when that occurs,” she said.
“I just think the Queensland Government is really just thinking up every excuse it can as it goes along and I don’t think that’s acceptable.”
The premier said it was “highly improbable” a state the size of NSW would meet Queensland’s expectations.
“For a jurisdiction the size of NSW, with the open economy we have, with the ability we’ve given to our citizens to do, in the main, what they would normally do in a COVID-safe way — I think it’s a benchmark no state our size would ever be able to meet,” she told the ABC.
“What the important questions that should be asked – and this is what I’ll be asking of Victoria — are, ‘How well do you manage a case when it comes up? How well do you make sure when a cluster emerges that you take action to get it under control?’
“They’re the questions that should be asked. Not these artificial days, not these benchmarks that will never be met.”
The cases reported in NSW yesterday were two women and a man, all aged in their 50s, spread across Parramatta, Camden and Wollondilly. The cases were not believed to be linked to each other.
Yesterday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would not budge on the 28-day target for NSW.
“The 28 days is nothing new,” she told ABC Breakfast.
“This was actually the advice that, my understanding is, that the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee had given the Federal Government.
“And it was not followed through by National Cabinet. It never came to National Cabinet.
“So I’m not being inconsistent with what all of the health officers actually agreed on.”
Currently, Queensland’s notoriously strict border rules only allows travellers from the northern NSW areas of Tweed Shire, Ballina, Byron, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes and a handful of border postcodes.
Queenslanders are able to visit these regions and residents can apply for a border pass to travel into Queensland.
All other approved NSW travellers to Queensland have to complete 14 days of self-funded hotel quarantine.