The couple who fled Melbourne during the city’s lockdown and drove into Queensland before testing positive to Covid-19 did not have an exemption to enter the Sunshine State, health authorities confirmed.
The pair were reported to have spent several days in regional NSW before moving north to Queensland on June 5. A 44-year-old woman tested positive in Caloundra on June 8, almost a week after she first developed symptoms, while her partner was confirmed as a new case on Thursday.
Queensland still regards Melbourne to be a Covid hotspot, with travellers from the southern state’s capital required to complete hotel quarantine on arrival.
The woman and her husband left Victoria on June 1 after a hard lockdown was announced and travelled through regional Queensland centres Goondiwindi and Toowoomba.
Camera IconDr Jeannette Young says the two were not given an exemption to enter Queensland. NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled Credit: News Corp Australia
On Wednesday, authorities reserved judgment on the two until further information about their declaration and exemption status was revealed, with police emphasising the prime concern was unearthing close contacts of the two.
“Of course we are going to investigate the circumstances of what’s happened here,” Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.
“We’ve got a couple that have come from Victoria when Victoria is in a lockdown.
“All the aspects of how that’s occurred, including what’s happened in the other states, we will do in a co-operative manner with our colleagues in Victoria and NSW.”
But on Thursday, Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young confirmed her department had not given the couple permission to forego strict directives.
“No, they didn’t come through the exemption process, so it’s now up to police to investigate whether they came through any other process,” she said.
NED-3987-Covid-road-tripThe couple were both transported to Sunshine Coast University Hospital to be quarantined, while 17 close contacts of the pair were identified, including the family members they were staying with in Caloundra.
The other 15 were at venues at the same time as the couple as they travelled into the state.
“Of the 17 immediate close contacts, three have tested negative already, we’ve got those results,” Dr Young said.
“But we need to continue all of that testing.”
Dr Young said it appeared as though the couple were at the end of their illness, which means the risk was lower than initially feared.
“Because I believe this risk is a little bit lower, I haven’t asked all of our vulnerable facilities to go into lockdown at this stage,” she said.