Covid couple faces wrath of three states
The Victorian couple who skipped Melbourne's lockdown and brought Covid-19 to Queensland could face prosecution in three states, and possible jail time.
Police are waiting until it is considered safe to interview the infected couple, who remain in isolation in Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
Queues at testing sites on Thursday were hours long as Sunshine Coast residents and businesses plunged into chaos by the potentially dangerous breach slammed the two '"idiots".
Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young indicated the risk the couple posed to Queenslanders was lower than initially feared as the pair were "towards the end of their illness".
But she was still awaiting genomic sequencing results, which may shed light on the variant the couple had contracted to assist Victorian authorities in potentially finding out how they became infected.
Dr Young revealed the pair did not have an exemption to enter Queensland.
Police are working with counterparts in Victoria and NSW to track the movements of the couple who drove to Caloundra, via Goondiwindi and Toowoomba, after entering Queensland on June 5.
They visited a string of venues including McDonalds at Goondiwindi, a Toowoomba service station, shopping centres at Caloundra and Kawana and several Sunshine Coast cafes.
The couple are believed to have been relocating to Queensland for work but police are investigating whether they lied on border declarations and why they did not go into mandatory hotel quarantine.
Officers say the couple could face similar action to a trio of young Logan women who were fined in Victoria and then prosecuted in NSW and Queensland for breaching COVID-19 rules in all three states during a trip to Melbourne at the height of the pandemic in mid-2020.
The skipper of a luxury superyacht, which illegally brought Melbourne construction magnate Mark Simonds and his family to the Gold Coast last August, was also heavily fined by NSW authorities and prosecuted in Queensland.
Failing to comply with border directions in Queensland, or providing a false border direction, carries a maximum penalty of up to six months' jail or a $13,345 fine.
Goondiwindi Mayor Lawrence Springborg blasted "what appears to be a flagrant breach of Covid hotspot protocols".
"This act of apparent selfishness has not only inconvenienced our community but put us all at risk and reinforces the need for constant vigilance and compliance with health advice,'' he said.
On the Sunshine Coast, locals lashed out after being forced to wait hours in long Covid-testing queues.
"Blooming idiots" was how James Moore described the couple as he waited two hours in a line of cars snaking hundreds of metres down the road from Caloundra Hospital's testing site.
Leta-Jaye Weder and her husband James said they were annoyed that they had to pull their children from school and take time off work as a direct result of the couple's actions.
"It's a loss of income, being self-employed with our own business," Mrs Weder said.
Pierre Mortensen, owner of Kings Beach cafe Coffee Kat which the 44-year-old Victorian woman visited on Sunday, said business had nosedived.
"You just have to think, please, what kind of negative impact you could have on other people's lives by doing those things," he said.
"She thought it was totally fine to be doing what she was doing but as you can see there's a flow-on effect, not just on my business but so many businesses are affected by what she did.
" … I'm sure she feels like absolute rubbish … I'm sure if she could turn it back, she would."
The two Covid-19 positive cases came at a critical time just two weeks out from school holidays and as the Coast welcomes several events including the Noosa Eat and Drink Festival, Downunder Beachfest and the Sunshine Coast Show.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said it was irresponsible of people from Victoria to head north during a lockdown.
"The fact (is) that it could undermine a whole lot of events. It would have been a tragedy to see our show cancelled again," he said.
"There's a whole range of sporting events coming up here over the next several weeks that could have been jeopardised and there still may be the risk of that if there are other infections."
Queensland declared Victoria a coronavirus hotspot from 1am on May 28, with all Victorians except limited essential travellers banned.
But they, along with returning Queenslanders, were required to go into 14 days' mandatory hotel quarantine in Brisbane.
Despite their failure to go into quarantine, Dr Young said she was grateful to them for working "so carefully" with contact tracers to identify exposure sites.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath refused to pass judgment on the couple until she received the results of a police investigation into whether they had the "relevant authorisation" to travel into the state.
"I don't want to jump to conclusions until I know all of the facts as to whether they did have a travel declaration," she said.
"I understand the husband was here with a new job. We know that is one of the grounds where people can travel due to work commitments."
Queensland Health has so far identified 17 close contacts of the couple since they arrived into the state, including people in cafes and restaurants.
Dr Young said three close contacts had already tested negative, including relatives they were staying with in Caloundra.
More than 400 people who visited the listed exposure sites at the relevant times have also come forward to Queensland Health.
The latest testing of the couple indicated they were both "towards the end of their illness" with extremely low viral loads.
"That would suggest that they probably got infected at least 14 days earlier," Dr Young said.
"Because I believe this risk is actually a little bit lower, I haven't asked all of our vulnerable facilities to go into lockdown at this stage."
Dr Young said the couple's low viral load may make it impossible to sequence it.
Victoria on Thursday recorded four new local Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile, Sunshine Coast GPs involved in the coronavirus vaccine rollout will receive an extra 16,500 AstraZeneca doses over the next fortnight in response to the latest Covid-19 crisis.
Vaccine operations co-ordinator Commodore Eric Young confirmed an extra 20,000 AstraZeneca jabs had been sent to Sunshine Coast University Hospital on Thursday, bringing Queensland's dose shipment to 95,000 this week.
Originally published as 'Infected for two weeks': Covid couple faces wrath of three states