Victoria has shut its border to South Australia as it embarks on a COVID-19 testing blitz in two regional towns.
The “hard border” with virus-hit SA came into effect just before midnight on Thursday and will remain in place until Sunday when a permit system is implemented.
The 48-hour shutdown was prompted by the unexpected detection of virus fragments in wastewater at Benalla and Portland, both along freight corridors, and Adelaide’s growing cluster which has sparked a six-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown.
Residents of those towns, as well as anyone who visited them between November 15 and 17 with any symptoms, are being urged to get tested and isolate until receiving their result.
New testing sites will be opened on Friday afternoon as part of the testing push. Portland’s will be based at a Princess Highway truck spot in Winnap, while the Benalla location is due to be announced on Friday morning.
Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Allan Cheng said the virus fragments could either be from an active infection, or a recovered case who may still be shedding the virus.
Under the hard border, only freight drivers and those with medical or emergency reasons, as well as people authorised by law, such as child protection officers, will be able to cross the border.
More than 300 police will patrol the Victorian side of the South Australian border, from Mildura down to Portland.
It’s the first time Victoria has shut its border to any state during the pandemic.
As the state recorded its 20th day without a coronavirus case or death, Mr Andrews said the closure would not impact plans to further ease restrictions on Monday.
There are only three active cases in Victoria, with 17,161 people tested in the previous 24 hours.
The state’s virus death toll stands at 819, with the national figure 907.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus
Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW,Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.
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