Sydney: Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of the Australian state of Queensland, declared the city of Sydney to be a COVID-19 hotspot on Wednesday, as fears of a national backslide intensified.
Taking effect from Saturday, the move prohibits anyone who has been in Sydney in the past two weeks from entering Queensland — aside from residents who will be required to isolate in a hotel for 14 days at their own expense.
Within Sydney, there were 19 new infections recorded on Wednesday as a number of clusters originating in restaurants and bars across the city proved difficult to contain.
The state of Victoria remained the centre of Australia’s current outbreak, with 295 infections recorded on Wednesday. However, a spate of unknown transmissions within Sydney have many Australians increasingly on edge.
“We have seen more cases of community transmission spreading across a wider area of Sydney. This includes into areas frequented by tourists, travellers and large numbers of Sydney locals,” Palaszczuk said.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have acted quickly to put the health of Queenslanders first, and that’s what we’re doing here,” the Premier added.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the decision as “wise”, saying that he supported limiting the movement of people from “outbreak zones”.
Palaszczuk also revealed that two 19-year-old women had tested positive for COVID-19 in Queensland after returning from a trip to Victoria, allegedly providing misleading information to authorities in order to avoid mandatory quarantine.