Australians have woken to find travel and Christmas plans in chaos after a Covid-19 cluster exploded on Sydney's Northern Beaches.
Contact tracers are scrambling to conduct genomic sequencing and interview the 17 people who have tested positive for coronavirus.
The timing of the outbreak could not be worse - occurring just one week out from the busy Christmas period that has many Australians due to cross state borders to visit loved ones for the first time in months.
New South Wales Health has advised residents north of Sydney's Spit Bridge up to Palm Beach to work from home and remain at home as much as possible, to avoid visiting friends or relatives in the area and avoid unnecessary gatherings.
This includes avoiding clubs, restaurants, places of worship and gyms.
Nearly 20 new venues and three Sydney train lines have been listed by NSW health as affected venues that require people to get tested and isolate immediately amid the Northern Beaches cluster.
The venues include supermarkets, a Mitre 10, shops, a chemist and a bank as well as three train lines. Those who have visited are advised to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive the results.
Authorities are frantically conducting genomic testing around the potential "super-spreader" event that led to the new community cases.
A cluster in Sydney's Northern Beaches has exploded to 17 cases. Photo / Getty Images
Chief health officer Kerry Chant urged anyone who has been at the Avalon Returned and Services League (RSL) to present for testing, with authorities believing it to be at the centre of the outbreak.
"Our working hypothesis is that someone at that RSL club was potentially the source of infection for a number of subsequent cases," Chant told reporters.
All but one of Sydney's community-transmitted cases are in the Northern Beaches, with contact tracers now in overdrive, attempting to bring the handful of mystery cases under control before Christmas.
Sydney was put on high alert yesterday after a 45-year-old man, who transports international aircrew from the airport, tested positive to coronavirus.
A few hours later, a couple, aged in their 60s and 70s from Sydney's Northern Beaches, also tested positive to coronavirus.
The infections are NSW's first cases of community transmission since December 3.
States move quickly to impose travel restrictions in response
States have been quick to change their travel advice amid the outbreak, with people who have been in the affected region likely to have their Christmas travel plans disrupted.
Here's a snapshot of what has been announced overnight:
From 12.01am Friday 18 December, anyone arriving from NSW will now be required to self-quarantine for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19 on day 11.
Anyone who has arrived from NSW from December 11 or was in NSW from December 11 and arrived in WA before Friday will be required to enter self-quarantine in a suitable premise as soon as possible, present themselves for a COVID-19 test and return to isolation until a negative result is confirmed. A further test will be required on day 11.
The NT has declared the northern beaches area a "hotspot" and said anyone entering from there will need to quarantine for 14 days.
The island state has also slapped the Northern Beaches with a "hotspot" label and said anyone who has been in the area since Friday December 11, is not permitted to enter Tasmania.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches region on or since Friday 11 December 2020 and is already in Queensland should get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the Northern Beaches.
Furthermore, "anyone who was in the Northern Beaches region on or since Friday 11 December 2020 and arrives in Queensland on a flight from Sydney after midnight tonight (Thursday 17 December 2020), must get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the Northern Beaches," she said.
"Anyone who was in the Northern Beaches region on or since Friday 11 December 2020 and arrives in Queensland on a flight from Sydney after 1am Saturday 19 December 2020 must go into hotel quarantine at their own expense for 14 days from the date they left the Northern Beaches, and get tested."
The advice applies to interstate visitors and Queensland residents returning home.
"We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide an update tomorrow morning," she said.
Victoria will issue further guidance today, but has asked anyone who's been in the Northern Beaches area since December 11 to "stay at home and get tested tomorrow".
"They should stay at home until results are available and especially avoid visiting aged care facilities and hospitals. Further guidance will be issued as information becomes available," the state's Department of Health and Human Services said.
In addition, anyone who was in the Northern Beaches region or other NSW exposure sites on or since Friday, December 11 and arrives in Victoria after 12.01am on Friday, December 18, must get tested and quarantine in their home or accommodation for 14 days from the date they left the Northern Beaches.
Australian Capital Territory
There are no current restrictions for travellers moving to or from the ACT, however this is being monitored closely.
South Australia has not made any announcements yet. Currently, those who have come from NSW are urged to monitor themselves and isolate if they develop symptoms.
Alerts issued for three new venues
NSW Health issued a statement regarding alerts for three new venues this afternoon, after another new locally acquired case of Covid-19 was reported in the Northern Beaches area.
People who have visited the following venues have been advised to get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result and until they have been contacted by NSW Health:
- Avalon RSL club on December 11, all day until closed
• Penrith RSL club on December 13 between 1pm and 6pm
• Kirribilli club on December 14 between 12pm and 3pm