NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has blasted Queensland’s deadline for NSW contact tracers as “complete rubbish”, calling for compassion for residents.
The 48 hour deadline set by the Queensland government for contact tracers to find the source of NSW’s recent mystery cases and allow the border to reopen is almost up.
Queensland has said it was willing to open the border to all of NSW if the southern state achieved 28 consecutive days of no coronavirus community transmission.
New cases recorded this week ended NSW’s 12-day streak of no locally acquired cases.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said on Wednesday that if NSW could not find the source of the infections by the deadline, the 28 days before the border could reopen would be reset.
“I think putting 48 hours … where’s the scientific evidence? Where is the basis for that? That’s just complete rubbish,” Mr Hazzard told 2GB.
“I think the decision by Premier (Annastacia) Palaszczuk is purely political. I think it’s cruel. It’s cruel to the families that need to be able to cross over for just so many different reasons.
“Compassion and care and caution can all be applied in a sensible way, and not with a blanket rule from the top that the answer’s no, and you’ve got to do this within 48 hours or the deal’s off.
“I mean, it’s just ridiculous actually.”
It comes after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian accused Ms Palaszczuk of continually changing the goalposts for the border to reopen.
“I just think it’s a concern that every time NSW expresses our view on what should be done in the pandemic, the Queensland government keeps changing the goalposts,” she told the Today show on Thursday.
“I’ve never heard of this rule where you have to have two days to make sure you link your cases to an existing case. I mean, that’s just something they plucked out of, I don’t know where. I’ve never heard that advice before.”
Ms Palaszczuk has stood firm on the state’s 28-day rule.
“If the New South Wales Premier is on high alert about those cases, I’m on high alert,” she said on Thursday.
“We are not ruling out anything at the moment. There’s another 24 hours for them to look at where those cases came from.
“We hope NSW gets on top of those cases very quickly.”
NSW residents were briefly allowed access to Queensland in July but the border was dramatically shut in August.
Currently, only residents in the border-area NSW shires of Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes can enter Queensland.
In brighter news for NSW, Greater Sydney residents will be welcomed back to the Northern Territory today, with the city’s virus hot spot status lifted by the territory government.
The easing of restrictions means more than five million Sydney residents – or anyone who has recently spent time in the NSW capital – will be able to enter the NT without two weeks of quarantine at their own expense.
“I am also confident in the thorough testing and contact tracing response in NSW, and that this outbreak is contained,” NT Chief Health Officer Dr Charles Pain said on Thursday.
“With this advice and our own review of the evidence, I remain confident about revoking greater Sydney as a hotspot from tomorrow.”