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Urgent coronavirus testing and contact tracing underway in Logan and Brisbane's southside

ABC Health logo ABC Health 29/07/2020 By Tim Swanston
a group of people crossing a street: People waiting for a COVID-19 test at Parklands Christian College today. (ABC News: Liz Pickering) © Provided by ABC Health People waiting for a COVID-19 test at Parklands Christian College today. (ABC News: Liz Pickering)

Queensland Health is leading a contact tracing and testing response in Logan and Brisbane's southside encompassing multiple restaurants, two schools and a medical practice after two new COVID-19 cases were detected.

The alarm was raised yesterday when three women were placed in quarantine after returning to Queensland from Melbourne, allegedly deliberately misleading authorities upon arrival.

Two of the women have tested positive to the virus.

They travelled from Melbourne via Sydney on July 21 and may have been unknowingly passing the virus to others while out in the community for eight days.

They visited a long list of locations which have now been identified by authorities.

Queensland police said the women's border declaration passes contained incorrect information and all three have been charged.

'It could be the start of Queensland hotspots'

Gold Coast Primary Health Network chair Roger Halliwell said re-closing the border will be considered by authorities "quiet seriously" in response to the new cases.

"There are good reasons why that may be an important next step," Dr Halliwell said.

"[The new cases] is the beginning of what could be a community-spread type event and causing potential hotspots.

Dr Halliwell said everyone with respiratory symptoms must get tested, including children.

University of Queensland Associate Professor of Virology Ian Mackay said Queenslanders should expect to see this kind of transmission from other states occur.

"I think we're going to keep seeing things like this happen … it shouldn't be a surprising event," he said.

"Down the track, if this were to spin into a bigger outbreak, those people have to live with their decisions here."

Widespread testing at fever clinics in the region is underway and people who have been to a number of restaurants and shops in Logan and Brisbane's southside are being urged to immediately self-quarantine and contact authorities.

The ABC understands people have been waiting for several hours to undergo a COVID-19 test at Brisbane's Prince Charles and Princess Alexandra hospitals.

It was a wait of at least four hours at Springfield Central Shopping Centre in Ipswich.

One woman told the ABC she waited at Springfield for five-and-a-half hours before being told they would not be able to get to her.

Dr Mackay said authorities were hoping the women had not spent too long with other people in the places they visited since returning to Queensland.

"We can hope that in those places that they've gone to, they haven't spent too long with other people, face-to-face at a close distance," he said.

"That's where the risks are … if that has happened, there will be the chance more cases will spin out of this."

Will Queensland close its border to New South Wales?

While the new cases were announced, Queensland also closed its border to all of Greater Sydney, meaning the more than 5 million people who live there cannot travel to Queensland, with few exemptions being granted.

Queensland had already closed its borders to three NSW local government areas, but has now added another 31 areas to the blacklist, including Paramatta and the Blue Mountains, effective Saturday at 1:00am.

Non-residents who have been in those 34 NSW areas or in Victoria in the past 14 days are not permitted to enter the state.

Queenslanders will still be allowed to return home but must quarantine at a hotel at their own expense.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Government was closely monitoring the rest of New South Wales for further signs of community transmission outside of Sydney before making any decisions about closing the border to all of the state.

Queensland police have not indicated whether they expect a rush of people from Sydney entering the state before the border deadline on Saturday, or what extra resources they might need to tackle screening at airport and road borders.

Tourism operators 'devastated'

Ms Palaszczuk conceded the further border closures would have an impact on the tourism industry.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Mark Olsen said tourism operators in the state's north were devastated.

"We estimated that the winter would bring us more than $250 million of additional visitor expenditure," Mr Olsen said.

"We'll see $100 million wiped off that figure with the announcement today … 70 per cent of our visitors from New South Wales come from Greater Sydney."

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