Prime Minister Scott Morrison moves to call a high-level meeting as COVID-19 spreads in Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is moving to hold a high-level meeting to consider further measures to tackle COVID-19 outbreaks.

Empty streets are seen at Bondi Junction in Sydney.

Empty streets are seen at Bondi Junction in Sydney. Source: AAP

An emergency meeting of Australia's national security committee will consider the increasing number of COVID-19 lockdowns as the nation faces some of its most widespread restrictions since the pandemic began.

Monday could also see an unscheduled meeting of national cabinet.


"The national security committee of cabinet is meeting in the morning with a specific COVID agenda, particularly to consider the outbreaks," the prime minister's office confirmed late on Sunday.

"The prime minister is reconvening national cabinet to meet as soon as possible this week."

The reconvening of two of the nation's most powerful parliamentary groups follows lockdowns in both Sydney and Darwin as coronavirus cases spill across borders.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt admitted Sunday was a challenging day as NSW reported 30 new cases, Darwin went into an immediate 48-hour lockdown and Western Australia reimposed restrictions.

The Northern Territory on Sunday reported five new diagnoses, with the government imposing a 48-hour lockdown for the capital city and some surrounding areas, which followed a positive case of a local miner.

In NSW, total cases have ballooned to 110 after entering into a 14-day lockdown in Greater Sydney and other areas.

In WA, a woman who visited Sydney returned home infected with COVID-19, prompting increased restrictions including mask wearing indoors, and stricter border measures.

"I know today is a challenging day for Australians," Mr Hunt told reporters on Sunday.

"We've done this before, we know how to do it. And we will get through it."

He reminded Australians this is a global pandemic, noting that in the UK alone there were 18,000 new cases reported overnight.

Health authorities are continuing to track hundreds of passengers from five Virgin flights on Friday and Saturday which carried people between Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

The alert was raised after a Sydney-based flight attendant tested positive to COVID, and was possibly infectious on Friday and Saturday.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the crew member did not have any symptoms when working those shifts and was unaware of having been a close contact of a worker at Sydney's Marrickville Great Ocean Foods, which has been identified as a transmission hotspot.

The Great Oceans Foods cluster has grown to 11.

"We have texted from the manifest people who have been on those flights," she said, seeking they all get tested and self isolate.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian praised the early behaviour millions of NSW residents after entering the 14-day lockdown.

"The anecdotal evidence we have today is that people have been compliant and we are deeply grateful for that," she said.

The NT situation was sparked by the positive case of a mine worker at the Newmont-owned Granites gold mine in the Tanami desert, some 540km northwest of Alice Springs.

More than 1600 people in three states have been ordered into isolation after he tested positive.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the worker was on a flight to Darwin with 80 other people. There are more than 200 other workers who flew from the mine to Darwin and authorities are still to contact about 20 of them.

Queensland has reported two new local cases, with both people believed to have been active in Brisbane for several days.

An updated list of possible transmission sites has been released on the Queensland Heath website.

Canberra will make face masks mandatory indoors from Monday, given the regularity of travel between the ACT and affected parts of NSW.

Amid fears the contagious Delta COVID variant could spread from Greater Sydney, New Zealand has paused a quarantine-free trans-Tasman bubble until at least Tuesday.

"We understand and respect that and regard that is reasonable under the circumstances," Mr Hunt said.

Most Australian states and territories have imposed travel restrictions and are telling residents not to travel to NSW.

4 min read
Published 27 June 2021 at 8:41pm
Source: AAP, SBS