Victoria is breathing a sigh of relief after health bosses revealed no new coronavirus cases were reported in the state on Friday.
Officially, five new cases were recorded but these infections were announced on Thursday, taking Melbourne’s new unexpected cluster linked to a Thai restaurant to eight.
Victoria’s testing chief, Jeroen Weimar said 170 close contacts of the eight coronavirus patients have been identified and are in self-isolation.
‘It has been a phenomenal piece of detective and research work by our contact tracing teams,’ he said on Friday.
‘I will expect that we will see more cases come out of the 170 close contacts and also the numbers continue to increase in terms of secondary contacts.’
It comes as Victorians are facing lengthy queues to get back into the state from New South Wales before the hard border closure comes in at midnight.
Authorities on Friday reported no new diagnoses of coronavirus for Victoria in past 24 hours, after the emergence of eight locally-acquired cases over the past two days. Pictured: Revellers line-up in face masks for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Melbourne
Victoria’s testing chief, Jeroen Weimar said 170 close contacts of the eight coronavirus patients have been identified and are in self-isolation. Pictured: A woman is seen in a face mask
In the state’s west at Genoa, one motorist on Friday reported a wait of almost six hours as a line of hundreds of cars snaked through a checkpoint.
Growing coronavirus case numbers in NSW on Thursday prompted Victorian authorities to impose a hard border from midnight Friday. Anyone arriving after that time must spend a fortnight in quarantine.
The news sparked an urgent dash for the border by many Victorians holidaying outside the state.
Anyone crossing back on Friday needs to have a border permit and must isolate at home for 14 days.
Those still making their way home have until 11.59pm Friday to cross before being forced into hotel quarantine as the state scrambles to avoid a third wave of the deadly virus.
Eight locally acquired cases of coronavirus were detected in 24 hours to Thursday afternoon, but Victoria is equipped to handle new clusters, Premier Daniel Andrews says.
Victorians are facing lengthy queues to cross the NSW border into their home state, as a COVID-19 quarantine deadline looms. Pictured: Police officers patrol and check for entry permits to Victoria at a border checkpoint on December 29, 2020
There were 13,801 coronavirus tests conducted across Victoria in the 24-hour period to midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Martin Foley thanked Victorians who have come forward for testing.
‘It is the most important thing you can do,’ he said on Friday.
The latest cases, which first emerged on Wednesday night, ended a 60-day streak without infections for Victoria.
All are directly or indirectly linked to the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock on December 21, which was attended by a NSW returned traveller.
That traveller returned before border permits were in place and was being tested on Thursday.
‘The NSW link is still our primary line of investigation for this outbreak,’ Mr Foley said.
One of the active infections in Victoria is someone from Leongatha in southern Gippsland (pictured)
It was also revealed on Friday that wastewater samples taken from Lakes Entrance on December 29 recorded traces of the virus, prompting calls or anyone in that area with symptoms to get tested.
One of the active infections in Victoria is someone from Leongatha in southern Gippsland.
The person was a close contact of one of the three women who dined at the Thai restaurant and they are in isolation.
Mr Weimar said the latest cluster was ‘not just a Melbourne issue’.
‘We have returning people from NSW across our entire state,’ he said.
‘If you have symptoms, go to your nearest testing station regardless of where you are in Victoria.’
Revellers say goodbye to 2020 and ring in the New Year at St Kilda Beach in Melbourne
On Thursday, Acting premier Jacinta Allan apologised for the border closure but said Victorians who are in NSW should not be surprised.
‘We have been sending a very strong message for the better part of a week-and-a-half … advising people to think very carefully about their travel to NSW,’ Ms Allan said.
‘These difficult decisions are about protecting the community.’
Masks are also mandatory indoors and the number of visitors allowed in Victorian homes is down to 15 from 30, she said.
Mr Weimar thanked the ‘thousands of people’ who quickly packed up and returned to Victoria.
‘I know we saw some very long waiting times in queues at border crossings last night and during the early hours of this morning,’ he said.
‘We are expecting another very busy day today at the border.
‘If you’re in NSW and you want to be back in Victoria you need to leave now.
‘Please prepare for a lengthy wait at the border so make sure you have fuel, water, food and whatever you need to isolate safely when you get home.’
COVID TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR NEW SOUTH WALESWestern Australia – All NSW residents are banned from entering WA. Anyone who enters the state will be ‘sent back’, according to Premier Mark McGowan. Victoria – A hard border has been put up, with the entire state of NSW declared a red zone. If people cross into Victoria before 11.59pm on New Year’s Eve, they must self- isolate until they test negative. If they enter before 11.59pm on New Year’s Day, they must self-isolate for 14 days regardless of test results. If they cross into the state after January 1, they must spend two weeks in mandatory hotel quarantine.Northern Territory – The state has declared greater metropolitan Sydney as a Covid-19 hotspot, and travellers will need to undergo 14 days of supervised quarantine.South Australia – Harder border closure to all NSW residents from midnight on New Year’s Eve. Returning South Australians must quarantine for 14 days. A 100km border buffer zone, including Broken Hill and Wentworth, will be exempt.Queensland – Queensland has shut its borders to Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast. Locals returning to the Sunshine State from a hotspot must isolate. ACT – Anyone who has been in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast or Wollongong must quarantine for 14 days in a government facility. Tasmania – Northern Beaches residents banned. All people from Greater Sydney must also quarantine upon entry.