The chances of the WA border with Victoria closing increased this morning as Victoria announced three more virus cases as the Sydney outbreak continues to spread.
Another three locally acquired coronavirus cases were identified in Victoria, on top of three women whose positive tests yesterday ended a two-month streak.
Acting WA Chief Health Officer Paul Armstrong is this morning seeking further information from Victorian authorities before providing updated advice to the McGowan Government.
Acting Premier Roger Cook is expected to hold a press conference that will include any changes to the Victorian border settings early this afternoon.
Yesterday, a State Government spokesperson said health authorities were monitoring the evolving situation in Victoria closely.
“Western Australia has always taken an extra cautious approach, to keep our State safe and strong, and we continue to be guided by our expert health advice,” the spokesperson said.
“Currently travel into WA from Victoria under the current controlled interstate border regime remains the same, however if changes to our border controls are required based on the health advice, they will be made.”
Two women in their 40s and a woman in her 70s from Mitcham, Hallam and Mentone were revealed on Wednesday night as having tested positive. Two of the women are family members.
It’s believed the cases are tied to outbreaks in Sydney.
One of the women and two close contacts attended the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Blackrock on December 21, as did a returned traveller from NSW, acting premier Jacinta Allan said on Thursday.
That traveller returned to NSW before border permits were put in place and is being tested as a matter of urgency.
Anyone who was at the restaurant on that night is being urged to get tested immediately.
Ms Allan said more information about the additional three cases — all close contacts identified through contact tracing — would be released later on Thursday.
She also imposed new restrictions for Victorians celebrating the new year, with a new limit of 15 visitors to households and reinstated mandatory masks at all indoor venues.
The new Blackrock exposure site is on top of a series of locations released by the health department late on Wednesday, with exposure dates between Boxing Day and December 28.
They include Katlialo restaurant in Eaton Mall in Oakleigh; Mentone/Parkdale Beach; Century City Walk and Mocha Jo’s in Glen Waverley; Kmart, Big W Target, Millers, King of Gifts and Lo Costa stores at the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, and the Holy Family Catholic church at Doveton.
Contact tracing has identified more than 50 primary close contacts of the women, who are isolating at home.
Victoria’s testing chief Jeroen Weimar expects more close contacts to emerge.
“We have been in this position before and we are deploying our full outbreak approach around these cases,” Mr Weimar said.
“We always knew this virus had us in a precarious position and we need to make sure we do everything we can to stamp out any further transmissions.”
Victoria has also announced tighter border restrictions with NSW, adding to bans on the northern beaches, Greater Sydney and Central Coast.
From Friday, anyone travelling from Wollongong and the Blue Mountains in NSW will not be allowed to enter Victoria.
Anyone already in Victoria who travelled to those regions since December 27 should get tested and stay at home until their results come back.
Until Wednesday, Victoria had been on a 60-day streak of no locally acquired coronavirus cases.
Despite the run, celebrations for the new year in Victoria were already going to be muted on Thursday night.
“It has been a very hard year and we have done an incredible thing as Victorians – let’s not risk it as we celebrate the end of 2020,” Police Minister Lisa Neville said.
Meanwhile, a NSW woman, 57, has been arrested after speeding through a checkpoint in East Gippsland on Wednesday.
The woman is from Bateau Bay on the NSW Central Coast, a designated red zone.
Police had to use a tyre deflation device to stop her car.