SA outbreak throws border opening plans into doubt

A coronavirus cluster in Adelaide sparked at a quarantine hotel has cast doubt on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that Australia will reopen state and territory borders by Christmas, with the exception of Western Australia.

The latest Covid outbreak spread from a quarantine hotel worker has grown to 17 known cases.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has offered to send Australian Defence Force personel if needed to bring the outbreak under control.

“But these are the sorts of challenges that if we trade or engage with the world, if we bring Australians home, we will face, in a world where there’s over half a million cases a day,” Hunt told the ABC.

“Having these strong testing, tracing and isolation systems are absolutely critical, and South Australia – on all the evidence – does have exactly that.”

The outbreak has seen NT, WA, Victoria and Tasmania impose border restrictions on travellers from SA. But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said her state will keep its borders open to South Australia.

“We’re confident that if that happened in NSW, we’d get on top of it, and that’s what’s happening in South Australia – they’re getting on top of it,” she said.

The announcement by Morrison followed a meeting of the National Cabinet and came as Victoria has now recorded 17 days without any coronavirus cases or deaths.