More than 1300 people have been put on high alert as contact tracers fear they may have come into contact with two COVID-19 cases at locations across Byron Bay.
Four new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Queensland on Monday, including two who travelled to Byron Bay for three days while infectious.
The cases prompted Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to announce Greater Brisbane would enter a snap, three-day lockdown from 5pm on Monday.
Anyone who was at the Byron Beach Hotel in Byron Bay on Friday, March 26 between 7.15pm and 8.30pm has been urged to isolate and get tested until more advice becomes available.
However, speaking with media on Monday, NSW chief medical officer Kerry Chant said contact tracers had to get in touch with anyone who checked into the venue from 2pm to 8.30pm.
That is because people who check into a venue often don’t check out.
“If you were there between 7:15pm and 8.30pm. I can indicate that we have texted and are reaching out to 1321 people who signed in at that venue from 2pm to 8.30pm,” Dr Chant said.
“Not everyone religiously checks out and so we’ve taken a wide variety of a time span.
“We are ringing those individuals, and we have texted them to say that if you had been in the venue between 7.15pm and 8.30pm, get a test immediately and go isolate.”
NSW Health on Monday issued a further warning for at-risk locations in the Byron Bay area, urging anyone who visited the venues to get tested and self-isolate.
- Byron Beach Hotel on 26th March from 7pm – 9pm
- Women’s communal toilets at the Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park, 26th and 27th March
- Mokha Cafe, 27th March from 10:30am – 11:30am
- The Farm Byron Bay, 28th March from 8:45am – 10:30am
Casual contact venues were also listed on the NSW Health website, and anyone who attended has been told to self isolate and get tested regardless of symptoms.
- Ghanda Clothing, 27th March from 12:00pm – 12:15pm
- Tiger Lily, 27th March from 12:25pm – 12:30pm
- Black Sheep, 27th March from 12:30pm – 12:40pm
- Quiksilver, 27th March from 12:40pm – 12:45pm
- Suffolk Bakery, 27th March from 2:45pm – 3:15pm
- Park Hotel Bottle Shop, 27th March from 7:30pm – 7:45pm
Dr Chant said more venues in the Byron area could be listed as contact tracers probed people’s movements through QR codes.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the Byron, Ballina and Tweed regions were concerning.
“It’s a very fluid area,” he said.
“We have people obviously crossing back and forth across all the time from Brisbane and from Queensland into those areas so the message to those folks particularly is be on high alert.
“You could have been near somebody who has come from Brisbane and you wouldn’t necessarily know that, so if you do get symptoms, get tested.”
Queensland chief medical officer Jeannette Young said she was waiting on genomic sequencing to determine how the cases were linked to other infections, noting the community transmission was of concern.
“We now have significant community transmission and significant numbers of venues of concern all through Brisbane and we know that people have moved from Brisbane out into the broader community,” she said.
“They were work colleagues,” Dr Young said.
However, the other two who visited Byron Bay are unlinked and under investigation.
Ms Palaszczuk apologised for the inconvenience the snap lockdown would cause people, particularly in the lead-up to Easter, but said health had to come first.
“I didn’t sleep last night, so I am very worried,” she said.
When asked if the lockdown would extend beyond the three days, Ms Palaszczuk said she hoped not.
“It’s going to depend on how our contact tracers go over the next 24 hours,” she said.