The New South Wales Premier has lashed out her Victoria counterpart for not reopening the border sooner, just hours after the federal government declared Australia no longer has any coronavirus hotspots.
The pair have been at loggerheads since Victoria closed its borders in December after a new outbreak emerged on Sydney’s northern beaches shortly before Christmas.
Ms Berejiklian reignited the war of words with another thinly-veiled swipe at Mr Andrews on Sunday, despite NSW recording six new locally-acquired cases.
She has repeatedly pointed out in recent weeks that NSW waited until new cases in virus-riddled Victoria reached almost 200 a day or more before closing the border last July.
Ms Berejiklian insists she hasn’t heard a word from Mr Andrews, amid speculation Victoria is considering plans to reopen the border to some Sydneysiders in the coming days.
The Victorian Premier has come under more fire from NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Friday)
‘He’s not been in touch with me at all but I also say that should have occurred quite a while back because we don’t have a hot spot in New South Wales,’ Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday.
‘We are, of course, dealing with a result of an outbreak from a month ago, but I think everybody would agree that closing a border of such significance is a really big deal and I stress that we waited until Victoria had in excess of – I think it was 180 cases they had the day after we announced the border closure.’
‘Just to put things into perspective, those decisions are difficult ones, they affect a lot of people and I would just ask people to really think about those decisions before they’re taken.’
It comes after federal health minister Greg Hunt said the removal of defined hotspots following just one case of community transmission in the past three days shows the nation is ‘containing the virus’.
‘I can’t understand why the border was closed in the first place and why the attitude of certain governments is what it is,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘There isn’t anywhere in Australia that’s currently being designated as a hotspot.’
She also accused Mr Andrews of double standards following the arrival of tennis players and officials from overseas into Melbourne for next month’s Australian Open.
‘I always said I can’t understand why the border was closed in the first place and why the attitude of certain governments is what it is,’ Ms Berekijian said.
‘There isn’t anywhere in Australia that’s currently being designated as a hot spot. So why shouldn’t people be able to return home?
‘And why shouldn’t Australians be able to move around freely? I have always been arguing for that. And I think this international event highlights the inconsistency of that.’
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the reopening of the Victorian border ‘should have occurred quite a while back’. Pictured are police at a border checkpoint in Wahgunyah in Victoria’ north-east
Greater Sydney remains a ‘red zone’ for Victoria, which means no one coming from the city can cross the border without an exception or exemption under the new traffic-light permit system announced last week.
Ms Berejiklian previously accused the Victorian Premier of ‘wasting resources’ when the borders first closed to all of NSW on January 2.
Victoria is watching Sydney closely, as it considers moving parts of the city from ‘red’ to ‘orange’ , which means travellers can apply for a permit but need to take a coronavirus test within 72 hours upon arrival in Victoria and self-isolate until a negative result.
But not Sydneysiders will be able to cross the border under eased travel restrictions as concerns remain about the western Sydney cluster.
‘There will be a significant shift in the next couple of days,’ Mr Andrews told reporters on Saturday.
‘These are not easy decisions … [but] I’m not about to cherry pick and only follow the advice that’s convenient from a political point of view.’
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton added: ‘There are clearly some local government areas within Greater Sydney that have now gone a number of days of cases without transmission.
‘I will look very intensively at the epidemiology across Greater Sydney over the next couple of days.’
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured on Thursday) is still considering plans to reopen the border to Sydneysiders after six new cases were recorded in NSW on Sunday
A new ‘traffic light’ system has been introduced for anyone looking to cross the Victorian borders. Pictured is a motorist passing through a border checkpoint in Mallacoota in the state’s East Gippsland region
Victoria recorded zero new locally-acquired cases for an 11th day in a row on Sunday as borders reopened to Greater Brisbane.
Meawnhile, NSW recorded six locally-acquired cases of coronavirus on Sunday.
All but one of the latest cases were household contacts of the western Sydney case reported in Saturday’s figures.
All new cases are believed to be linked to the Berala bottle shop cluster in Sydney’s south-west.
The plea comes as more urgent alerts are issued about a Centrelink, a hospital and medical centre in western Sydney attended by infected cases last week, along with several train routes.
Sydneysiders are urged to come forward for testing after six new cases were recorded on Sunday. Pictured is a woman in Sydney’s Circular Quay on Thursday
More than 12,700 tests were conducted in the 24 hours up until 8pm on Saturday.
Western Sydney train alerts
Warwick Farm to Auburn: January 14, 2:20 – 2:56pm
Auburn to Warwick Farm: January 14, 8:27 – 8:58pm
Auburn to Warwick Farm, January 15, 1:44 – 2:16pm
Warwick Farm to Auburn, January 15, 10:40 – 11:12am
Warwick Farm to Auburn, January 15, 4:28 – 4:58pm
Ms Berejiklian has urged more people to come forward for testing, especially in areas where there have been recent cases such as western Sydney, south-west Sydney, the Northern Beaches and Wollongong.
‘It’s really important to note that through households, it’s really easy to spread the virus, as we have seen, so in one household, we had six people get the virus,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘What is really important is to make sure that given we are towards the tail end of this particular outbreak, there haven’t been other super-seeding events, we want to keep it that way.’
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant added: ‘ It is critical that we get those testing rates up very high so that we can detect these unrecognised chains of transmission.
‘The areas I’m particularly calling out for testing are in Bankstown, Lidcombe, Auburn, Berala and Wentworthville.
‘So my plea applies to everyone across the state but particularly in those local government areas as we’re trying to mop up any last chains of transmission.
New public health alerts have also been issued for a western Sydney venue and additional public transport routes.
Concord Repatriation General Hospital is on high alert after an infected employee worked in the cardiology and radiology wards ‘while potentially infectious’ on January 12, 13 and 14.
Dr Chant stressed that the employee’s role involves minimal patient contact and they wore a face mask during their shifts.
Anyone who attended Centrelink at Auburn on January 14 in the afternoon should get tested immediately and self-isolate until a negative result occurs.
Anyone who visited Centrelink in Auburn (pictured) on January 14 between 3 and 4:15pm has been urged to monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they appear
Anyone was in the dental, physio and imaging waiting room at Wentworthville Medical and Dental Clinic (pictured) between 11.30am and 1.15pm on Friday has been ordered to isolate for 14 days, regardless of the test result
Those who travelled on train services between Warwick Farm and Auburn on January 14 and 15 have also been given the same health directions.
It comes after days without a locally transmitted infection.
All people who were in the dental, physio and imaging waiting room of the Wentworthville Medical and Dental Clinic between 11.30am and 1.15pm on Friday are now considered close contacts.
‘(They) must immediately get tested and self-isolate for 14 days regardless of the result,’ NSW Health said on Saturday afternoon.
‘Anyone who was in other areas of the clinic at that time should monitor for symptoms and immediately isolate and get tested if they appear.’
NSW is currently treating 100 cases, including one in intensive care.
Most other cases are being treated in non-acute, out-of-hospital care.
NSW has flagged the possibility of loosening restrictions on Greater Sydney next week but one of the conditions is high testing rates.
One of the new NSW cases worked at Concord Repatriation General Hospital (pictured) for three shifts last week. Their role involve minimal patient contact
Source: Daily Mail Australia | World News