Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 7 AUGST 2021

Premier Peter Gutwein

The teams have been working around the clock following the confirmation of that 31 year old man who tested positive after being in hotel quarantine in Launceston during the course of the week. Now, I'm pleased to report that yesterday, we had 1,880 tests that were run through our laboratory, and they were all negative.

Yesterday as well, there was 1,669 tests that were conducted, and obviously we'll be running tests through the course of the day as well, and there will be further runs tonight. But at this stage, all of the test results have been negative, which is very encouraging news, and as I've said, we'll continue to keep testing over the coming days.

Wastewater testing results as well that have been undertaken as part of the ongoing and active surveillance of COVID-19. The results to date have all returned negative results as well. In terms of the Newham site, we are going to re-run that this week due to a technical issue. But today, all of our wastewater sites have returned negative results as they have done consistently over the course of previous months and the Minister speak about that more shortly, as well.

While not unexpected given the situation New South Wales was facing, it's also been confirmed that this man did in fact have the Delta strain of the virus, meaning that every precaution we're taking is important given the highly contagious nature of this variant.

The other matter though that I want to make clear as well this morning, is it all context of the 31 year old man had been contacted via text or email, providing them with instructions on what action to take. This involves a total of 199 people.

Of these contacts, 139 have been assessed to require quarantine. All of these people are being tested and, to date, all test returned have been negative with the remaining test to be undertaken during the course of the day, and we’ll obviously provide a further update tomorrow on that. The remaining 50 individuals have been assessed as low-risk and not requiring quarantine.

Now, importantly, we know this virus moves with people which is why once again as the Delta strain continues spreading in states including New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, we have border restrictions in place with those jurisdictions all of Victoria, all of New South Wales and 11 in local government areas in Queensland in addition to high-risk premises in Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Cairns in northern Queensland.

Unfortunately, today, New South Wales recorded 319 new cases and sadly, five more deaths. There were 13 cases in Queensland and 29 in Victoria, many of which I understand were out in their community whilst positive. We will continue to monitor the situation in these states and adjust their border settings if necessary, noting that in terms of New South Wales, that is at high-risk level 1, Victoria is at high-risk level 2, and likewise with Queensland but we'll continue to monitor that and Dr. Julie Graham will be attending AHPPC later today and engaging with her counterparts from around the country, and from those states, especially in terms of the circumstances they face.

The other matter that I want to touch on is in terms of the this particular case that we've been discussing the last two days, I want to reiterate that our processes at the border worked exactly as we would expect them to that is somebody turns up without a pass from a high-risk location - then we take steps and we place them into quarantine or if possible, they would be returned to their own state from the airport.

When this person entered the State without an endorsed G2G pass, he was immediately sent into quarantine due to there being as I said yesterday, now immediate and available direct flights back to New South Wales at that time for two days. So I want to reiterate our border procedures - in the event that a person arrives who is unauthorised to do so and a return flight is available within a reasonable time, the person will be isolated at the airport until they can be returned to their place of origin.

The exceptions of that in terms of the Delta strain, we've looked at this exception being that if you are from a high-risk, level 1 area - which New South Wales is - you will be placed directly into hotel quarantine, we won't have you isolated at the airport or at the seaport, you'll immediately be placed into hotel quarantine.

And what will change immediately, in turn is that any person from a high-risk, level 1 area or premises will be placed into government designated hotel quarantine, and if they wish to leave the state before the end of their 14 day quarantine period, noting that we have had the position that if you've entered the state, and you shouldn't be here that you've been able to return to your home state.

In the case of somebody arriving from a level 1 area or premises that is placed into government designated hotel quarantine, they will need to apply to the Deputy State Controller and will only be approved for release from quarantine early in order to leave the state if they have received at least one negative COVID-19 test result.

And if approved to leave the state, noting the change in the risk in terms of the Delta variant and the Deputy State Controller may impose further requirements on the traveller in connection with their departure. Those who are approved in terms of that, with conditions or not, will be transported by government transport to the airport, or to the Spirit of Tasmania, if that is the departure point.

I do want to be absolutely clear - in terms of the risk that we are seeing across the country - if you don't have authority to enter Tasmania, don't come. And if you do arrive, you will be placed into hotel quarantine, at your own cost if you are from a high-risk area with a level 1 rating - which would be New South Wales at the moment - otherwise, you will be turned around and sent home.

We’ve been consistent in that, but I just want to make it perfectly clear that the circumstances have changed. The way that we manage our borders, if you're thinking of trying to sneak through, that you can arrive here after you've been rejected, we will throw the book at you. If you turn up and you've asked him to come in, you don't have a valid pass or your pass has been rejected, then we will throw the book at you. It is as simple as that.

This Delta strain now is particularly challenging across the country, New South Wales are going to be in this for some time. And obviously in terms of what's occurring in Victoria, the circumstances there look like they are getting worse as well.

So, I'm asking everyone, that’s impacted to follow Public Health advice to the letter and I'm asking all Tasmanians to take this seriously.

Importantly, especially those in the north of the state, get a test if you are unwell, no matter how mild the symptoms are. High testing rates will give us confidence and will help us identify risks, so please do the right thing.

Remember to use the Check In TAS app. When you buy your groceries, visit the gym or head to the cinema. When it's your turn to be vaccinated – don't hesitate, don't wait – vaccinate. Cover your coughs and sneezes, wash and sanitize your hands regularly, maintain appropriate social distancing, stay home if you're unwell and get tested - even if you have mild symptoms.

As we've discussed over the last couple of days in this room, it is the time to make sure that you have a COVID kit at home - make sure that you've got masks, make sure that you've got sanitizers so that we are all prepared and ready.

Really importantly, we've stayed on top of COVID because we've worked together but now is not the time to become complacent. If you look at what's occurring in New South Wales and the circumstances that they face there and the numbers that they're seeing. Victoria is in a very challenging situation and pleasingly Queensland seems to be improving its position.

But the two southern states New South Wales and Victoria especially on the eastern seaboard are in very difficult circumstances, and so it's important that we are all vigilant.

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