Queensland Covid-19: Five Victorians caught breaking border rules

Police have caught five Victorians trying to illegally enter the Queensland, as the investigation into an infected Melbourne couple continues.

Queensland Police have cracked down hard on people illegally crossing into the state, as police continue their investigation into the infected Melbourne couple who put three states on high alert.

Deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski confirmed police were still waiting to interview the Victorian couple currently in isolation at the Sunshine Coast Hospital, but would have to wait until it was safe to do so.

He also revealed five new people have been caught trying to illegally enter Queensland after being in Victoria.

“That has been a combination of people not getting border passes, but also in some instances, people putting false declarations on their border passes,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said during Friday’s press conference.

Two people were intercepted coming across the Goondiwindi border and have each been issued a $4003 fine for “failing to comply with directions”

“On top of that, we have had another male person who has come into Dalby via the Coolangatta border who has also been fined for having an untrue declaration on their border pass,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

Two people in the Wide Bay district also came up from Victoria with no border pass at all.

“It is really incumbent on people to make sure that they do what is required of them coming into the state. There are serious consequences for this,” he said.

“As we have seen with the couple on the north coast, there is a serious consequence and that we have had people would covid in our community, and that is really unacceptable.”

So far more than 950 contacts of the infected Melbourne couple have been identified, with up to 402 of those considered close contacts.

Genome sequencing has shown the couple has the Kappa variant of Covid-19 which is slightly less infectious than the Delta variant, but still more infectious than previous variants seen across Australia.

“I believe that the two individuals who came from Victoria were right end of their illness, so that is reassuring. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t spread it,” chief health office Dr Jeanette Young said.

“We just need to continue with what we are doing, but I am confident that if people do continue as they have been going that we should be able to manage this going forward. It is a bit too early to relax.”

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Hefty penalties on the cards for Victorian couple

Queensland recorded no new locally acquired Covid-19 cases overnight, following the news a 44-year-old woman and her husband left Victoria while unknowingly infected and set off on road trip to the Sunshine Coast.

The pair left Victoria on June 1, four days after a statewide lockdown had come into force, and travelled through regional NSW and Queensland before the woman tested positive to Covid-9 on June 8 in Caloundra.

Queensland Health authorities confirmed yesterday that her husband had also tested positive to the virus.

Yesterday, Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino said health officials were conducting interviews with the couple and flagged the possibility that they may have been moving house, which would mean they wouldn’t have broken the lockdown rules.

Health authorities from Victoria, NSW and Queensland have all conducted interviews with the couple, with a police investigation also underway to determine whether the pair broke border rules across NSW or Queensland.

Dr Young revealed the couple did not have an exemption to enter the state, with questions also being raised about why they didn’t undergo a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine period upon entry.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said on Thursday there was a “range of penalties” for people who broke travel border rules.

In Queensland, breaching border requirements could result in an on-the-spot fine of $4003, a court-imposed penalty of up to $13,345, or six months’ imprisonment.

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Providing false, misleading or incorrect information on a border declaration form could also result in these penalties.

NSW did not shut its border to Victoria during the lockdown period, though any travellers from the state were required to abide by the lockdown rules in NSW.

Not complying with a NSW public health order can result in a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $11,000.

It is possible the couple could face a similar punishment to the three young Logan women who breached Covid-19 restrictions by travelling across all three states at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

The group were fined in Victoria and then faced charges in NSW and Queensland as a result of their actions.

Queensland and NSW exposure sites grow

Authorities are scrambling to trace the movements of the couple, with the pair making multiple stops during their roadtrip from Victoria to Queensland, via NSW.

The list of exposure sites across NSW and Queensland has grown to 39, with Dubbo, Moree, Forbes, Caloundra, Buddina and Baringa just some of the areas impacted across the two states.

Questions have been raised about how the couple managed to enter Queensland undetected if they did not have a travel exemption.

Their route through NSW shows they crossed the Queensland border at Goondiwindi – a town on the Macintyre River, 350km southwest of Brisbane.

According to the Courier Mail, one theory about the couple’s route is that they chose to cross the border at Goondiwindi because the focus of police patrols were on the border at the Gold Coast.

However, the inland drive from Victoria to Queensland, crossing the border at Goondiwindi, is a popular route.

It is still not known how the couple acquired the infection, but early investigations suggest they may be linked to the Craigieburn Central shopping centre outbreak.

Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, Professor Allen Cheng, revealed one of the cases checked in at the shopping centre on May 23.

“I think the fact that we’ve been able to identify a possible link to the Craigieburn shopping centre within hours of hearing about these cases and even before being able to speak to these cases, really highlights the value that we have in QR codes that we can interrogate that database very quickly,” he said.

Dr Young said on Thursday that it appeared the couple were both towards the end of their infectious period.

However, she said it was still extremely important for residents to come forward and get tested.

“It’s still there, and I still need everyone to come forward who develops any symptoms at all who lives in the Sunshine Coast, or Goondiwindi or Toowoomba – it’s very, very important,” she said.

“We’ve seen a lot of testing already started. That needs to continue, just so we can make sure that there hasn’t been any transmission out there.”

So far authorities have identified 17 immediate close contacts, with three of those testing negative to the virus. Two of those negative results came from the parents that the couple were staying with in Queensland.


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