NSW has recorded 12 new coronavirus cases from 29,607 tests in the latest 24-hour reporting period, including a mystery case in the state’s central west.
It comes as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her conversation with her Queensland counterpart on Wednesday afternoon over the border was “polite and constructive”.
Three of the NSW cases were locally acquired with no known source, including two in a south-west Sydney family and a case in Parkes in the NSW central west, NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said.
Another three are returned travellers in hotel quarantine and the rest are locally acquired linked to known cases or clusters.
Of the local cases with known sources, one is linked to a previously reported case in south-eastern Sydney whose source is still under investigation and three are linked to the August CBD cluster, which is now at 52 cases.
A close contact of a case at St Paul’s Catholic College Greystanes and a close contact of the Girraween Public School case have tested positive, bringing the size of that outbreak across the two schools to 12.
The remaining three cases were in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
There have been 3902 coronavirus cases in NSW since the start of the pandemic.
The NSW Premier said her conversation over the border troubles was “polite and constructive”.
Ms Berejiklian said she raised with her Queensland counterpart concerns that healthcare workers should be able to travel more freely across the border, and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk indicated she would put this to Steven Miles, the Queensland Health Minister and Deputy Premier.
“I hope she will respond positively to that,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian said she did not get the sense Queensland would relax their border measures anytime soon.
“My job is to make sure I protect the health and wellbeing of our citizens. That is not happening to the extent I would like it to, and that’s a concern.
“I worry when some towns are not getting doctors for weeks on end or at all because the Queensland government won’t acknowledge that when they return to Queensland they should not have to serve that quarantine [period] when they are providing vital health services,” she said.
Ms Berejilian said the guideline set by the Queensland government as to when it would reopen their border was “a pretty tall order”.
“I don’t know anywhere on the planet where a society can function openly and productively during a pandemic and given assurance that you are going to have zero cases of community transmission for a prolonged period,” she said.
The national cabinet discussion concerning border measures will be “very sobering”, Ms Berejiklian said.
She urged her counterparts to trust in their health systems.
“If you have confidence in your health system, if you have confidence that contact tracing is something you can deal with in your state there shouldn’t be a reason for you to keep your border closed given the low rates of community transmission currently in NSW,” she said.
“Everyone wants certainty, everyone wants to be able to plan ahead whether it’s businesses or reuniting with family,” she said, qualifying that she did not include Victoria in that same situation given their current transmission rates.
There is only one criteria for reopening the interstate border, Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Thursday morning, and that is almost a month without coronavirus community transmission in NSW.
“At this point in time, the trigger to open the border into NSW is when they have had two incubation periods [14 days each] of no community transmission,” Dr Young told reporters on Thursday.
“Yesterday [Wednesday], they had one case, so they are getting there.
“Now, if they were to have 28 days of no community transmission – that is the current definition to open the border – then that would occur.
“We know the highest risk of bringing the virus into this state is from areas that have higher amounts of community transmission.”
A border bubble exists to help those communities on either side of the Queensland-NSW border still be able to access essential services, such as medical appointments.
It encompasses the Tweed Heads Shire Council area and Gold Coast City Council boundaries, with included residents allowed to move within those two areas, but no further.
Kate Aubusson is Health Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.
Mary Ward is a reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Toby Crockford is a breaking news reporter at the Brisbane Times