Aussies wake to Christmas nightmare
Australians have woken to find travel and Christmas plans in chaos after a COVID-19 cluster exploded on Sydney's Northern Beaches.
On Thursday evening contact tracers scrambled to conduct genomic sequencing and interview all those who had tested positive for coronavirus, with a list of nearly 20 new affected venues and three train lines announced in a bid to contain the outbreak.
The timing of the outbreak could not be worse - occuring just one week out from the busy Christmas period that has many Australians due to cross state borders to visit loved ones for the first time in months.
The 14-day quarantine period from now will push past Christmas, which is just one week away.
However before the decision was announced, many on social media called for borders to be slammed shut immediately, saying states like Victoria that had made hard-won gains against the virus could not risk a resurgence now.
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Please close the border temporarily to assess the situation. We cannot risk going through what we did again. We are only just starting to heal.— L.A. (@LA29071328) December 17, 2020
Dr Vyom Sharma said Victoria should "test all arrivals from there at the airport tomorrow. And if NSW don't isolate contacts-of-contacts within a day or two, either test ALL arrivals from Sydney, or reconsider travel restrictions."
Rebecca Young wrote "sorry NSW, I think we should support you in all the ways that we can but having an open border under the circumstances is totally unacceptable."
"I know that'd ruin some Xmas plans but tbh this is life and death so I don't care RN."
Niki Goodfellow asked why the Victorian government was not "putting all those on flights from Sydney into quarantine like other states are doing right now? (And border checks) What's the hold up?"
Lilian Mae Ball said "close the border. They would if it was us. We don't want to go back into lockdown here because of this."
"It's still not mandatory to wear a mask in NSW despite the covid outbreak underway. Honestly this is just too much risk for a virus thst is airborne and if NSW govt is too scared of its business paymasters to take the necessary action, then other states have to."
Another social media user named Scott said "please oh please not be the undoing of all our hard work and sacrifices."
Lalin Ahsan wrote "please close the border. We can't go through in same situation again."
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said authorities are investigating a potential super-spreader event at Avalon RSL, based on an unknown person who may have infected a drummer who played gigs over Sydney, a woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s.
The woman then attended Avalon Bowling Club and infected another woman in her 50s, who works at an aged care facility. She is also thought to have infected her partner.
Genomic testing was due to be completed by Thursday night.
So far 17 cases have been identified in the area with the entire LGA, home to around 250,000 people advised to stay home as much as possible, avoid visiting friends unless essential, avoid high-risk venues like restaurants and clubs and unnecessary travel outside the area.
Others are advised to avoid unnecessary travel to the Northern Beaches.
Epidemiologist and public health specialist Tony Blakely told The Project the situation is "serious" and the "real truth will come in the next few days."
Host Lisa Wilkinson said NSW "kind of forgot" that we are in a pandemic because cases had been so low for so long.
"In NSW, because we never went through what Victoria did or South Australia … we've just been sort of rolling along, thinking, 'Gee, haven't we done well,'" she said.
"Well, it turns out it is very definitely still out there and obviously people who are asymptomatic that are passing it on. We are in a pandemic and we kind of forgot."
Originally published as Aussies wake to Christmas nightmare