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Australia Covid alert hits regional NSW as eight more venues exposed to virus

11:50  10 june  2021
11:50  10 june  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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a car parked in front of a building: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

A coronavirus-infected couple who fled Melbourne and road tripped across three states before were moving to Queensland for work, health authorities have revealed.

The pair escaped Victoria's 'circuit breaker' Covid lockdown on June 1 and went on a 1,900km road trip through several vulnerable regional communities in NSW before arriving in Queensland on June 5.

The woman, 44, tested positive on Wednesday but may have been infectious from the day she left Melbourne which was already in lockdown.

On Thursday morning, Queensland Health confirmed her husband had also contracted the virus. The couple are both in Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

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Health authorities have confirmed the pair did not have an exemption to leave Victoria and travel to Queensland.

Meanwhile NSW Health on Thursday afternoon announced eight new venues across regional parts of the state had been visited by the couple including a Coles supermarket and a Chemist Warehouse.

a car parked on the side of a building: Drive through testing clinics have been set up out the front of the Vandenberg Hotel in Forbes after news that a Covid infected couple travelled through © Provided by Daily Mail Drive through testing clinics have been set up out the front of the Vandenberg Hotel in Forbes after news that a Covid infected couple travelled through

NEW NSW VENUES ON ALERT

The Bakehouse in Forbes on June 1 from 2.30pm-2.50pm

Browns Sportspower in Forbes on June 1 from 3pm-3.30pm

Best and Less in Dubbo on June 2 from 12.20pm-1pm

Chemist Warehouse in Dubbo on June 2 from 1.45pm-2pm

Coles in Dubbo on June 2 from 4.30pm-5pm

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PKs Bakery in Dubbo on June 3 from 7.30am-8.45am

Coles Express in Coonabarabran on June 3 from 11am-12pm

ASSEF's clothing store in Moree on June 3 from 3pm-3.30pm

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said police would now 'investigate whether the couple came (into Queensland) through any other process'.

Victoria had been declared a hot spot at the time the couple entered Queensland, meaning Victorians were unable to enter the sunshine state without an exemption.

Those granted entry would then have to undergo 14 days in hotel quarantine.

Dr Young said she was grateful for the couple who were working with contact tracers to identify any potentially exposed venues.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said they were waiting for more information about how the couple entered the state.

'I don't want to jump to conclusions until I know all of the facts as to whether they did have a travel declaration,' Ms D'Ath said.

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'I understand the husband was here with a new job. We know that that is one of the grounds where people can travel due to work commitments.'

Kim Fetherstone, who owns the Vandenberg Hotel in Forbes, in New South Wales' Central West, closed her pub for deep cleaning when she discovered the Victorian woman and her husband had dined there while infectious.

Ms Featherstone says the closure, on State of Origin night, cost her at least $7,000.

Her entire staff has been ordered to be tested and Ms Fetherstone has no plans to reopen until each one of them returns a negative result, so as not to potentially put her vulnerable community at risk.

Shane Patton, Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, said police are investigating whether the couple may have been moving interstate and had a legitimate reason to travel.

map: Health authorities in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are scrambling to track down hundreds of people who may have been exposed to the virus during their interstate trip © Provided by Daily Mail Health authorities in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are scrambling to track down hundreds of people who may have been exposed to the virus during their interstate trip a car parked on the side of a building: Kim Fetherstone, who owns the Vandenberg Hotel in Forbes, in New South Wales' Central West, closed her pub for deep cleaning when she discovered a Victorian woman and her husband had dined there while infectious © Provided by Daily Mail Kim Fetherstone, who owns the Vandenberg Hotel in Forbes, in New South Wales' Central West, closed her pub for deep cleaning when she discovered a Victorian woman and her husband had dined there while infectious

There are also concerns the couple may have lied on their border declaration passes.

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'It's ridiculous. And it's selfish,' Ms Fetherstone said on Thursday morning. 'This doesn't just affect me, but it impacts so many of us in town.'

After a particularly tough year due to the pandemic, she and her staff had 'heavily promoted' the State of Origin NRL game, trying their best to lure townsfolk on what is already their busiest night of the week.

Wednesday nights are cheap steak nights at the Vandenberg Hotel and attract many of their regulars.

With the added potential of customers coming to watch the football game on a big screen, Ms Fetherstone estimates she would have earned about $7,000 during the dinner rush.

That alone is a tough pill to swallow.

'It's impacted us so greatly. It's tough as it is in a small country town without people coming through and doing this.'

Ms Fetherstone and her staff learned they would be named as an exposure site just five minutes before the media was briefed on the situation.

Struggling country pub forced to close due to Covid on Origin night

  Struggling country pub forced to close due to Covid on Origin night Kim Fetherstone, who owns the Vandenberg Hotel in Forbes, lost out on at least $7,000 worth of business on State of Origin night after closing due to Covid exposure.Kim Fetherstone, who owns the Vandenberg Hotel in Forbes, in New South Wales' Central West, closed her pub for deep cleaning when she discovered a Victorian woman and her husband had dined there while infectious.

At 5.30pm, less than three hours out from Origin and at the start of their dinner shift, she made the decision to close up shop.

On Thursday, authorities turned the front of her business into a Covid testing centre for worried locals.

Health authorities in Victoria, NSW and Queensland are scrambling to track down hundreds of people who may have been exposed to the virus during the couple's interstate trip.

Police are investigating whether the couple crossed the NSW-Queensland border at the remote rural town of Goondiwindi on June 5 in a bid to evade authorities.

The couple likely drove the scenic route so they could avoid passing through the Gold Coast - where police perform 100 random intercepts a day with strict border control measures in place.

Sunny's Cafe at Moffat Beach on the Sunshine Coast was also identified as an exposure venue after the couple dined there between 2.45-3pm on June 6, one day after arriving in Queensland.

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The manager on duty said four staff at the small cafe have been tested and are in isolation.

If any return a positive test, the entire cafe will be forced to close for at least 14 days.

'No one expected this,' the manager said. 'We have a lot of tourists on the weekends and you chat with them but you're not exactly quizzing them on where they've come from or what they're doing here.'

Despite the added stress of wondering whether they will be without an income for two weeks, management refuse to pass judgement on the couple.

'I hope they've got a valid reason,' she said. 'I can't imagine what that valid reason could be, but they're still people at the end of the day. And they've done the wrong thing but we just have to hope now that it all is okay in the end.'

It's understood the woman broke lockdown to visit her family in nearby Caloundra.

She had been experiencing symptoms - including loss of her sense of smell - from June 3 but only sought a test on June 8.

In an extraordinary twist, the pair were only detected when they came forward for testing because the husband needed negative results for work purposes.

Five close contacts of the couple remain in isolation, quarantining at a house together on the Sunshine Coast.

a kitchen with a table in a room: Sunny's Cafe at Moffat Beach on the Sunshine Coast was also identified as an exposure venue after the couple dined there between 2.45-3pm on June 6, one day after arriving in Queensland © Provided by Daily Mail Sunny's Cafe at Moffat Beach on the Sunshine Coast was also identified as an exposure venue after the couple dined there between 2.45-3pm on June 6, one day after arriving in Queensland map: The couple crossed the NSW/Queensland border at the remote town of Goondiwindi, four hours inland of the Gold Coast where police are much more strict with their patrols © Provided by Daily Mail The couple crossed the NSW/Queensland border at the remote town of Goondiwindi, four hours inland of the Gold Coast where police are much more strict with their patrols

Victorians were forbidden from travelling more than five kilometres from home at the time the couple began their trip on June 1.

NSW did not shut its border with Victoria, but any travellers from the state were supposed to abide by the lockdown rules even in NSW.

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Queensland required all Victorian arrivals to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said Queensland Police would investigate how the couple were able to enter the Sunshine State.

'We'll examine all those issues around passes - whether they were appropriate and what has happened - it is too early to say,' he said.

'It's really important for us to remind the whole community that we cannot possibly check every single person moving around the country.'

VENUES ON ALERT ACROSS NSW AND QUEENSLAND AS INFECTED WOMAN'S TIMELINE IS REVEALED

June 1:

Left Melbourne and drove across the border to regional New South Wales

10.30-11am: Gillenbah, Caltex Narrandera

6pm-10pm: Forbes, Vandenberg Hotel

June 2:

7-10am: Forbes, Brew Coffee Bar

10.30-11.30am: Dubbo, Shell Petrol Station

11.30am-2.30pm: Dubbo, Church Street Cafe

6-10pm: Dubbo, Reading Cinemas

June 3:

Midnight-10am: Dubbo, Homestead Motel

1.30-4.30pm: Moree, Cafe Omega

From 1.45pm onwards: Moree, Gwydir Carpark/Motel & Thermal Pools

3.30-4.30pm: Moree, Woolworths

June 4:

All day until 7.30am June 5 : Moree, Gwydir Carpark/Motel & Thermal Pools

7-9.30am: Moree, Cafe Omega

11.50-2pm: Moree, Cafe Omega

4.30-11pm: Moree, Amaroo Tavern

June 5:

Arrived at Goondiwindi border and crossed into Queensland

7.35-7.50am: Goondiwindi, McDonalds

11-11.15am: Toowoomba, Caltex

June 6:

Travelled to Sunshine Coast

2.45-3pm: Moffat Beach, Sunny's

3.30 - 4.30pm: Coffee Cat in Kings Beach

June 7:

10.45-11.30am: Stockland Caloundra Shopping Centre - Coffee Club and Kmart stores

12.10 - 12.45pm: Caloundra, Bunnings

1-2pm: Buddina, Kawana Shoppingworld

June 8:

3.50-4pm: Caloundra, Baringa IGA

Read more

The Doctor Who Eliminated Smallpox Says COVID-19 Is Here to Stay .
In some pockets of the United States, if you squint hard enough, the coronavirus pandemic might feel like it’s almost over. Larry Brilliant would beg to disagree. With U.S. COVID-19 deaths soon to surpass the domestic toll from the great influenza of a century ago even as widely available vaccines have worked wonders, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who worked with the WHO to help eradicate smallpox and was the science adviser for the eerily prescient film Contagion, thinks there’s still plenty left to worry about—but also lots of good news to appreciate.

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