In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she continued to monitor the situation in both southern states, and she reiterated her call for Queenslanders to reconsider unnecessary travel plans.
“While we are not changing any restrictions to NSW and Victoria at this stage, as we’ve seen, things can change really quickly with this virus,” Dr Young said.
Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates earlier called for people to be given “as much notice as possible” should the Greater Sydney hotspot be expanded across NSW and into Victoria.
After Queensland announced the decision to declare Greater Sydney a hotspot on the afternoon of Sunday, December 20, travellers who had been through the region had only until 1am the following day before all but those with exemptions were locked out.
Returning Queensland residents were given an extra 24 hours to make it back under a home-quarantine arrangement before being directed into hotels.
Victorians trying to make it home from NSW on Friday before their state government closes the border to travellers from the northern state at 11.59pm on New Year’s Day faced hours-long traffic jams.
South Australia will also close its border to those from NSW at midnight, while Western Australia has shut out people travelling from Victoria.
Although the Queensland-Victoria border remains open, a rush of people making last-minute bookings led Qantas to schedule an extra flight at 5.35pm on Friday.
Meanwhile, Dr Young said genome testing of COVID-19 samples taken from returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine had detected a second case of the more infectious South African strain.
The man, in his 50s, had flown from South Africa via the United Kingdom and Qatar.
Further traces of the virus were also detected in sewage samples taken on December 30 from two sites across the state – Bundaberg in the Wide Bay area, and Elanora on the Gold Coast.
“We’ve announced 12 wastewater results in the past eight days, and Queenslanders are responding fantastically by getting tested – please keep it up,” Dr Young said.
She urged not just residents but holidaymakers in regions with positive sewage sample results to come forward for testing if they have even the mildest symptoms.
Thirteen cases remain active in the state.
Matt Dennien is a reporter with Brisbane Times.