NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has refused to substantiate his claim that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is keeping Queensland’s border closed for political reasons.
A Sydney nurse was confirmed to have coronavirus on Friday, in addition to five new locally acquired cases recorded in NSW.
The new infections increase the likelihood that a November 1 reopening of the border with Queensland will be delayed.
Mr Hazzard has criticised Queensland’s 28-day “border clock” to trigger free passage between the states, casting aspersions about Ms Palaszczuk’s motivations for imposing it.
“If (health) were the only reason, that would be entirely appropriate,” Mr Hazzard told ABC radio on Friday
“The reason is that she’s just decided that she’s in an election phase and she is playing games basically with the rest of the community.”
When asked to back up his accusation, Mr Hazzard declined: “I have the evidence but I’m not going to share that. But there’s no doubt about it that it’s a political exercise.”
He then took aim at Queensland giving NSW 48 hours to find the source of the infections, suggesting it was “another plucked, non-evidence-based decision from the premier”.
Ms Palaszczuk labelled his claims “rubbish” and advised Mr Hazzard to concentrate on bringing case numbers down.
“I am not going to be distracted by someone trying to distract from what is happening in their own state,” she said.
The reignited argy-bargy came as NSW recorded 10 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, with four of the new locally-acquired cases associated with a private health clinic cluster.
And the nurse who tested positive for COVID-19 worked a shift at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney while infectious, NSW Health said.
She was thought to have had contact with just one patient and a small number of staff.
NSW Health flagged the latest infection as one that will be among more to be included in Saturday’s figures, alerting the public to potential exposure venues.
Anyone who visited Palm Beach Fish and Chips, S-mart Eastwood and Aldi Eastwood at specific times on Monday and Tuesday are considered casual contacts and advised to monitor for symptoms.
Alleged COVID-19 breaches were among the causes of police fines issued overnight to a pub on the NSW north coast.
Penalties totalling $ 14,400 were slapped on the hotel at East Ballina for offences in late September and last week, including gathering in large groups and being served alcohol while heavily intoxicated.
Australian Associated Press