Two Australian states are on high alert after an infected woman and her husband traveled through the states of New South Wales and Queensland from Victoria, the epicenter of the country’s most recent outbreak, visiting dozen of locations along the way.
Authorities in New South Wales and Queensland are rushing to follow up close contacts and locate virus hotspots. The couple may be prosecuted for violating COVID-19 border restrictions.
The 44-year-old woman tested positive for COVID-19 once in Queensland, authorities said late Wednesday, and her husband has since tested positive.
Queensland State Health Secretary Yvette D’Ath told reporters in Brisbane Thursday that the couple’s tests indicated they were likely at the end of their infection phase.
“That means the risk is lower than we expected yesterday, which is really good news,” said D’Ath. No further cases were reported by the state.
Australia has largely contained all previous outbreaks through quick locks, regional border controls and quick contact tracing, with just over 30,200 cases and 910 deaths since the pandemic began. Zero cases were reported on most days this year.
Queensland has issued warnings for parts of the Sunshine Coast, a popular tourist destination, and two regional areas.
NSW authorities said the couple traveled mainly through regional cities for five days last week.
“The message to our regional communities by and large is on high alert, this is a real and present danger for us to have people who are positive, traveling through our state, stopping in multiple places, endangering our state” said Brad Minister Hazzard said.
NSW, the most populous state in the country, has not reported any locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in more than a month, while Queensland last reported cases in late March.
Australia also reported Thursday that a 52-year-old woman died of severe blood clots with low platelet counts after breaking the AstraZeneca. got (AZN.L) Vaccine, second vaccine-related death in Australia from 3.6 million doses administered.
“We are going to be very good at diagnosing and treating this particular event. But in this particular case it has not been successful,” Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters.
The country now has a total of 35 confirmed and 13 probable cases of the rare side effect. The AstraZeneca vaccine is only recommended for people over 50 in Australia.
The government on Thursday extended the travel ban on cruise ships to Australia until September 17th. The curb has been in place since March 2020 when cruise lines were the source of most of Australia’s early COVID-19 cases.
On Thursday, Victoria reported four new locally acquired cases versus a case the day before, bringing the total infections to 90 in the most recent outbreak.
The new cases, all from the same household, come as Melbourne prepares to come out of a two-week lockdown Thursday night, though some curbs stay on trips and gatherings.
Melbourne’s five million residents must be within 25 km (15 miles) of their homes, a move that could cause more pain for rural businesses as officials seek to limit community broadcast over a long weekend ahead .
Although Thursday’s cases are not linked to other clusters in the recent outbreak, the low-risk lockdown in Melbourne continues due to low risk, Victoria State Prime Minister James Merlino said during a televised media conference.
Separately, New Zealand authorities put three Melbourne residents into managed isolation after boarding their flight from Sydney to break a travel ban imposed in response to the Victoria outbreak, New Zealand media reported.
New Zealand began quarantine-free travel for Australian travelers in April, a pandemic milestone, but paused the so-called “travel bubble” with Victoria late last month.
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