Dr Scott McKeown, Acting Director of Public Health
I have just come out of a briefing with the Premier and the Deputy Premier. You would all be aware that the Premier of Victoria has – just now – announced a statewide lockdown of Victoria from midnight tonight until midnight Tuesday evening.
On the basis of this decision, and our risk assessment of additional cases that have been reported in Victoria today, and the need to continue to protect Tasmania from the risk of COVID, I have advised today, as acting Deputy Director, the Deputy State Controller, that from midnight tonight, we will declare all of Victoria a high-risk, Level 2 area.
That will remain in place, to be reviewed daily, and we will respond to any changes Victoria make in their designation of their lockdown area.
I have discussed this with the Premier and the Deputy Premier, and this decision has been made with the intention and the responsibility of ensuring protection of Tasmania of the risk that’s posed by COVID, and particularly of the Delta strain, which is causing so many challenges to states and cities around Australia.
What this means, by making this declaration, of all of Victoria as a high-risk area, Level 2 – the risk will be defined as by commencing from 8 July. What this means, is that if any person has been in Victoria on or since 8 July, and is not currently in Tasmania, they will need to apply to enter Tasmania and be approved for entry by the Deputy State Controller.
A person who was there on 7 July, and left on 7 July, and wants to enter Tasmania, will not need to apply. The risk in Victoria has commenced since 8 July.
Also today, there have been continued reports of increased cases across the country. NSW is remaining stable, and the information in the assessments that I have from the discussion with my interstate colleagues today at AHPPC, is that the situation in NSW is stable, and any risk outside of the lockdown area of Sydney remains low risk.
There has been good contact tracing around areas of concern, where there have been exposure sites, where the few outside of Sydney, where a person has been infectious, there has been very good contact tracing around those.
Other states have reported cases today, and there is confidence in those states in managing those cases. And we will continue our approach of declaring any exposure site, where a case has been present while infectious, as high-risk premises, to protect Tasmanians.
I’d also like to provide an update today of where our ongoing investigations have got to around the recent case in the UK that was diagnosed, of a person that left Tasmania.
There have been ongoing tests, around 1,000 tests a day, across the state, which is a significant increase from our normal testing level. Over 400 tests have been done on average each day this week, in the area of concern in Northern Tasmania.
To date, we have not yet detected any further cases. All results have come back as negative.
Dr Veitch, the Director of Public Health, has been quite clear that this will take some time, we will need ongoing testing. We anticipate receiving our waste water test treatment results this Friday evening. We will review those results and determine if any are positive if it indicates any concern.
The other information we have requested is further information from the UK that will enable us to determine is if the person is infected with a strain of virus that is linked genomically, that is the finger print whole genome sequencing, with any circulating strains in Australia. If that information is provided, and it’s not linked, then we will know this is not a case that has been acquired in Australia.
Certainly today there is no evidence that this infection was acquired in Tasmania, or that the person was infected in Tasmania, but we are continuing with our very cautious approach of requesting testing of people that have attended the sites that we have declared as sites of interest, for which a person should be tested.