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NSW Health records 18 new coronavirus cases as Sydney residents rush to beat Queensland border ban

ABC Health logo ABC Health 30/07/2020 By Rani Hayman
a person sitting in a car: NSW recorded 18 new coronavirus cases. (ABC News: Brendan Esposito) © Provided by ABC Health NSW recorded 18 new coronavirus cases. (ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

Sydneysiders are rushing to cross the Queensland border before they're locked out this weekend, amid a rising number of mystery coronavirus infections in New South Wales.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in NSW remained relatively steady yesterday, with 18 fresh infections identified in the 24 hours to 8.00pm last night.

However, in a statement, NSW Health said it was still investigating the source of six of those.

It said two were linked to the funeral gatherings cluster in south-west Sydney, four were linked to the Thai Rock cluster in Wetherill Park, and four were associated with the The Apollo restaurant in Potts Point.

The remaining two were returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

NSW Health said it found an asymptomatic case this morning at Parklea Correction Centre, who had since been placed in isolation while contact tracing was underway.

Gym Fitness First also said it closed its St Leonards club for cleaning after health authorities confirmed a person with COVID-19 visited on Monday, July 27.

The new figures come after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk on Wednesday declared 31 local government areas, which comprise Greater Sydney, as COVID-19 hotspots.

Flight prices sky-rocketed after Ms Palaszcuk announced the ban from 1:00am on Saturday.

A one-way Qantas flight from Sydney to Brisbane was selling for more than $1,600, while Virgin Airlines and Jetstar have completely sold out on the same route.

However, an inflated price for a flight home was still cheaper than the cost of a mandatory hotel which travellers would have to pay out of their own pocket, for $2,800 per adult.

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Joseph Liu planned to fly home to Queensland at the weekend, but moved his flight forward to avoid quarantine.

"I've had to kind of rush it through," he said.

"Try to get in there before the crazy stuff happens, you kind of get locked in here in NSW, so unfortunately I had to pay a bit extra and try to get on that flight."

He said he visited several websites before he could secure a flight and saw seats completely book out within minutes.

"It was ridiculous … it was going crazy," he said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was unaware of the decision to declare Greater Sydney a COVID-19 hotspot before it was announced.

"It would have been nice to have been given a heads up, but I get the pressure that everybody's under and we just have to accept the decision," she said today.

"I don't begrudge any other premier having to make decisions in what they believe is in the best interest of their citizens.

"Ironically, we were actually welcoming travellers on behalf of Queensland and WA and the other states who closed their borders to us, keeping their citizens in quarantine before they went back to their home state.

"But now with the Victorian outbreak, clearly things have changed."

The ban comes as three women from Queensland returned after travelling interstate from Melbourne, with police alleging they "went to extraordinary lengths" to hide their travel history.

Queensland today confirmed three new cases, with two of those returning Queenslanders who dined at Sydney's Apollo restaurant, who self-isolated on their return.

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