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Victorian COVID-19 cases surge ahead of NSW border shutdown

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Victoria has recorded 191 new cases of coronavirus, as the state prepares for the closure of its border with NSW at midnight Tuesday.

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Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton confirmed the result on Tuesday, with the state now having recorded a total of 2824 cases.

There are currently 772 active cases in Victoria.

Up to 500 Australian Defence Force personnel will patrol the NSW-Victoria border after it closes at midnight in a bid to contain the Victorian outbreak.

The ADF is finalising plans to deploy between 350-500 personnel to support NSW Police Force border checkpoints. There are 55 crossings between the states.

“The first of these are expected to deploy to the border to achieve the NSW government directed border closure timings, pending finalising the agreement with NSW authorities,” an ADF spokeswoman said.

Defence Force personnel won’t be directly involved with law enforcement but will support police operations.

“Defence is ready to provide support for a range of contingencies in both states and will continue to work to support states and territories when requested,” the spokeswoman said.

It comes as NSW Health on Monday evening said two suspected coronavirus cases are being investigated in the Albury-Wodonga area on the Victoria-NSW border.

There are some 50,000 car movements between the two cities each day.

The two possible cases had returned positive results on preliminary testing in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District, with further testing underway.

One suspected case had recently been to Melbourne but returned before hotspot travel restrictions came into force.

NSW Health is setting up a pop-up clinic in the border city of Albury from Tuesday, and is urging residents in the area with even the mildest symptoms to get tested.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the rate of COVID-19 community transmission in parts of Melbourne gave NSW health officials no choice but to close the border.

“To this point, the vast majority of cases around the nation have been from overseas travellers or direct contacts. What is happening in Victoria is a multiplication based on community transmission,” Berejiklian told the Seven Network on Tuesday.

“That is what really concerns us and that is what made us take that difficult decision.”

Berejiklian added that the border would not reopen until community transmission in Melbourne had dropped to a sustainable level.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard also announced that hotspot travel restrictions would be extended to include residents from Greater Melbourne from Tuesday.

It means they will only be able to enter NSW for limited reasons, such as getting medical care, or fulfilling a legal obligation.

Victoria on Monday had recorded an additional 127 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

NSW reported 10 cases, all in hotel quarantine, from 11,500 tests.

NSW residents who return from anywhere in Victoria will from Wednesday be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

-with AAP

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