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Border chaos as SA shuts to Greater Melbourne

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One person has died after trucks collided and burst into flames just outside Bordertown shortly after South Australia shut its border to greater Melbourne over concerns about a Victorian COVID-19 outbreak.

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The border closure prompted a rush to cross into South Australia before the deadline, with police saying it was taking hours to process a long queue of vehicles.

The truck crash 5km from Bordertown has closed the Dukes Highway in both directions and access to both states has been stopped. SA motorists heading to Victoria are being diverted south onto Meatworks Road toward Naracoorte, access to Victoria will be via the Wimmera Highway, while people heading to Victoria are advised to avoid Bordertown.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the circumstances of the crash would be investigated, and the other two truck drivers have been taken to hospital with minor injuries.

“My understanding is the trucks were heading to South Australia,” Stevens told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“One truck has gone into the rear of another vehicle and forced it into another truck, and those trucks were already in a line waiting to enter South Australia.

“This is clearly a tragic set of circumstances where a person has lost their life, but the reality is we’ve been doing these checkpoints for months and months.

“There are always going to be obstructions on our roads.”

Stevens advised the public at around 9pm last night that the hard border closure would come into force, prompted by an outbreak from an Melbourne quarantine hotel which has grown to eight cases.

The closure, effective from 12:01am this morning, bans all greater Melbourne residents from entering the state, while returning SA residents, essential travellers and relocating residents will have to undergo 14-days of mandatory isolation at home.

The direction applies to all who have been in the greater Melbourne area on or after February 4, but does not affect travel from regional Victoria or within cross-border communities.

Stevens told reporters yesterday that authorities would assess whether the situation in Melbourne more border checkpoints to be set up in the coming days.

“We already have police officers on our checkpoints with the Victorian border,” Stevens said.

“We’ll be reassessing that, subject to what activities we see in Victoria in relation to potentially increasing the number of places we have checkpoints.”

There are seven scheduled commercial flights from Melbourne to Adelaide today, with travellers to SA from other states permitted to transit through Melbourne Airport provided they spent time in a low community transmission zone beforehand.

The new border direction comes after the COVID outbreak at Melbourne’s Holiday Inn quarantine hotel grew to eight cases yesterday, following the positive tests of a third worker and second guest released from quarantine.

This is in addition to a family of three at the hotel who all contracted the virus overseas.

Victorian health authorities suspect the cases are linked to the use of a nebuliser, a device that vaporises medication or liquid into a fine mist.

The nebuliser was used by one of the family members who has an underlying health condition and was taken to intensive care on Tuesday.

Victorian Chief Public Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was possible everyone on that floor of the hotel had been exposed to the virus.

“The risk with an aerosolised virus is very substantial and so I think we should expect more cases,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

The Holiday Inn outbreak, which has forced 220 hotel workers into 14-day isolation, prompted Victorian authorities yesterday to shut down the embattled facility and move 48 of its guests to the Pullman Hotel in Melbourne.

There have been seven cases of COVID-19 transmission across three Victorian quarantine hotels within a week, with three confirmed to have contracted the more infectious UK strain.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier told reporters yesterday she was “very concerned” about the Victorian situation due to the presence of the UK variant.

SA Health recorded two new COVID-19 cases yesterday: both returned travellers isolating in a medi-hotel.

With AAP

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