Thousands of people in Sydney's northern beaches area have been warned to stay home after a COVID-19 cluster grew to 17 infections.

"As a number of new cases are currently being interviewed, it is likely that a number of new venues will be identified and that people in the northern beaches may have attended these venues," NSW Health said in a statement on Thursday night.

To assist contact tracing and to contain any potential spread of COVID-19, people have been asked to work from home and stay there as much as possible for the next three days.

They have also been urged against visiting friends or relatives in aged care facilities or hospitals unless it is essential.

Unnecessary gatherings should be avoided, as well as high-risk venues such as clubs and restaurants, and people should stick to their household group.

"At this time, we request that people from outside the area should avoid unnecessary travel to the northern beaches," NSW Health said.

It has been reported that the request applies to everyone from Palm Beach to The Spit.

According to the council website, the northern beaches stretches from Palm Beach to Manly, with a population of more than 266,000.

EARLIER

The NSW Northern Beaches COVID cluster has tripled in size to 17 with 12 more cases identified by NSW Health today.

The Queensland Premier had earlier revealed that certain venues will be off limits to anyone who's been in the region since December 11 in a bid to protect "vulnerable Queenslanders", but that came when the number of known cases was six.

Annastacia Palaszczuk took to social media this afternoon to declare that all Queensland residential aged care centres, hospitals and correctional facilities will be locked off to those who've recently been in the Northern Beaches area from midday on Friday.

Meanwhile, anyone who was at the Avalon Beach RSL on December 11 must now get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days.

The NSW Government has issued a stay at home order from The Spit to Palm Beach, while WA is immediately enforcing new border rules on NSW travellers after a coronavirus outbreak in the eastern state.

 

 

The new Queensland edict comes as travellers hoping to flock into Queensland from NSW for Christmas have been warned to wait 24 hours amid an escalating Sydney virus cluster.

The Sunshine State's acting premier Steven Miles said the borders between the two states would remain open for now but warned Queensland's chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, was eagerly watching as the Northern Beaches outbreak rose to five people.

 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has issued a stay at home order from The Spit to Palm Beach. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has issued a stay at home order from The Spit to Palm Beach. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

 

Fears of a possible border closure were sparked on Wednesday when it was revealed NSW had recorded its first local coronavirus case in two weeks - a 45-year-old van driver.

Two more infections were announced later that afternoon - a woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s. Another two were added to the outbreak by Thursday morning, with a third revealed in the afternoon.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said it was an evolving situation, warning the next 24 hours were critical in suppressing the risk of the virus spreading.

Dr Young has also urged anyone who has travel plans to visit greater Sydney, in particular the Northern Beaches region, to consider the risk of those areas becoming a hotspot.

"NSW has issued a number of public health alerts, where the recently confirmed cases have been while infectious," she said.

 

 

 

"It's vital that anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches region, especially in any of the venues listed in the NSW public health alerts, follows the health advice issued by NSW.

"That health advice includes that anyone who was at the Avalon Beach RSL on 11 December 2020 must immediately get tested and quarantine for 14 days in their home or in their current accommodation.

"I am also asking anyone that has been in the Northern Beaches region since 11 December 2020 to monitor their health and immediately get tested if they develop any symptoms."

Any person who is currently in Queensland who has been in those areas is being urged to get tested if they develop any symptoms.

Dr Young said extra preventative measures will be put in place to protect some of the most vulnerable Queenslanders.

"It is important for Queenslanders to remain vigilant and continue to practice physical distancing, hand washing and staying at home if you are unwell and to get tested if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms," she said.

Mr Miles said the outbreak was in its infancy and advised Queenslanders planning on travelling to Sydney, and the Northern Beaches where four of the cases are from specifically, to wait 24 hours for Dr Young to provide a more detailed response on restrictions.

But he said travel policies were unlikely to change given Queensland Health was confident in the steps taken by its NSW counterparts to contain the recent outbreak.

"We'll monitor that situation very, very closely," Mr Miles told reporters.

RELATED: Long queues at Sydney testing facilities

All eyes are on NSW as the virus cluster in Sydney grows. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
All eyes are on NSW as the virus cluster in Sydney grows. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

"Anyone currently in Queensland who might be planning Christmas travel to that region, we just urge you to take caution to consider waiting out that 24 hours to see whether this cluster gets any worse.

"Because over that period of time, the chief health officer will need to consider whether other steps need to be in place."

Queensland infamously imposed long and harsh border closures during the health crisis and many were nervous health authorities would again resort to a cautious policy for travellers.

But Mr Miles said there's a difference between opening the border and slamming it shut.

"There's different tests for that," the acting premier told reporters in Cairns.

"What we are looking for in that case is the length of time between unlinked community transmission. At this stage, we are still in the window within which contact tracers are able to identify that link, so we will wait for that information from them.

"If NSW is able to contain this very quickly, then we hope there is no further action necessary.

"However, what people will know is that our chief health officer, health minister and our premier will act when they need to."

Travellers relying on the Western Australia border remaining open are also eagerly awaiting a decision after its premier Mark McGowan issued a threat to slam the borders shut yet again if the case numbers grew in NSW.

He told reporters on Wednesday the state's chief health officer Andy Robertson was watching the testing situation in Sydney "like a hawk".

"The controlled border we have in place with all other states allows us to put up a hard border immediately if we need to," Mr McGowan told reporters.

"If the advice comes back we need to put up a hard border, we will."

Northern Beaches local residents scramble to get tested at Mona Vale Hospital. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
Northern Beaches local residents scramble to get tested at Mona Vale Hospital. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

 

NSW health officials told those who visited the below venues in Palm Beach and Avalon that they are being considered close contacts.

They have been told to isolate for 14 days even if they receive a negative coronavirus test.

Those site include:

  • Hungry Ghost Cafe, 20 Avalon Parade, Avalon on Sunday, December 13 between 9.30am and 11am and Tuesday, December 15 between 9.30 and 11am
  • Sneaky Ground Cafe, Avalon Beach on Monday, December 14 between 10.30am and 11am
  • Barramee Thai Massage and Spa, 4/42-44 Old Barrenjoey Road, Avalon Beach on Monday, December 14 between 2pm and 3.30pm
  • Bangkok Sidewalk Restaurant, 1/21-23 Old Barrenjoey Road, Avalon Beach on Monday, December 14 between 7pm and 8pm
  • Palm Beach female change rooms on Sunday, December 13 between 9am and 9.15am
  • Coast Palm Beach Cafe, Palm Beach on Sunday, December 13 between 10am and 11am
  • Avalon Bowlo (bowling club), Avalon Beach on Sunday, December 13 between 5pm and 7pm (not 3-5pm as previously reported) and Tuesday, December 15 between 3pm and 5pm
Residents on the Northern Beaches have been told to get tested if they exhibit symptoms. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
Residents on the Northern Beaches have been told to get tested if they exhibit symptoms. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

 

Health authorities have also issued a warning for those who visited the following venues to get a test immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result.

These include:

  • Bing Lee, Gateway, 1 Mona Vale Road, Mona Vale on Monday, December 14 between 4.30 and 4.45pm
  • Woolworths Avalon Beach on Sunday, December 13 between 12pm and 5pm
  • Oliver's Pie, Careel Shopping Village, Avalon Beach on Monday, December 14 between 9am and 9.15am

"Everyone living on the Northern Beaches area should monitor for even the mildest of symptoms and come forward for testing immediately if they appear, then isolate until a negative result is received," NSW Health said on Wednesday afternoon.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the outbreak on the Northern Beaches warranted a serious reaction from residents in the area.

"I would say to everybody on the Northern Beaches it is sufficient to say four cases of apparent community transmission at this point would strongly suggest to any of the residents of the Northern Beaches that you should go and guest tested," he told reporters on Thursday morning.

Originally published as NSW cluster jumps to 17: New Qld restrictions



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