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Australia Tasmania declares New South Wales high-risk area amid COVID-19 risk

11:13  17 july  2021
11:13  17 july  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Tasmania will declare all of New South Wales as a high-risk area from midnight, Premier Peter Gutwein says.

It will mean Tasmania will effectively close its border to all of New South Wales from 11:59pm on Saturday.

Previously Tasmania had only declared 34 local government areas in New South Wales as high-risk areas.

The decision means Tasmania has closed its border to both the entirety of New South Wales and Victoria as both states experience coronavirus outbreaks.

"You will not be able to enter [Tasmania] without an exemption from the deputy state controller," Mr Gutwein said.

Acting public health director Scott McKeown said Tasmania could no longer afford to take any more risks with New South Wales "on top of the risk we're already taking".

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"On that basis, I've advised the deputy state controller and the Premier that we will declare from midnight tonight the regional area of New South Wales as high-risk," Dr McKeown said.

Mr Gutwein said it was "sensible" for Tasmania to take a precautionary approach in managing its border with New South Wales given the increasing number of exposure sites in the state.

"One would hope that cases will not materialise in New South Wales, but on the evidence that has been presented to date … there's a very high risk that they will," he said.

"So from midnight tonight, New South Wales, in its entirety will be locked out to Tasmania.

"The situation in New South Wales is extremely volatile … they've put in place some of the toughest restrictions that have been seen anywhere in the country right throughout the course of this pandemic and they are battling to get on top of this."

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Mr Gutwein estimated that 1,400 people have travelled to Tasmania from regional New South Wales in the last week.

"They are very low risk," Mr Gutwein said.

"There is no evidence of community transmission in regional New South Wales, we are doing this pre-emptively on the basis of what's occurring in New South Wales at the moment and where this could go."

There are currently 500 people in home quarantine in Tasmania who have been in high-risk areas.

Yesterday, health authorities directed nearly 15,000 people who had returned to Tasmania from Victoria since July 8 to wear facemasks in public, because a small number would have likely been at exposure sites that had yet to be identified by contact tracers.

Mr Gutwein said Tasmania's testing numbers have also remained high.

"There continues to be good levels of testing with … just under 900 tests conducted yesterday, over 700 the day before that, and over 700 per day before that," he said.

"I can confirm to date, all tests remain negative, and importantly last night, the wastewater testing that we did was negative as well."

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