Karl Stefanovic calls for book to be thrown at couple fled Melbourne and put three states on alert


A woman who fled Melbourne with her husband and went on a 1900 kilometre road trip before testing positive to coronavirus has come under heavy fire from Karl Stefanovic.

Health authorities in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are scrambling to  track down hundreds of people who may have been potentially exposed to the virus during their road trip across three states.

The woman, 44, tested positive on Wednesday but may have been infectious from the day she left Melbourne on June 1, which was already in lockdown.

Police believe the couple crossed the NSW-Queensland border at the remote rural town of Goondiwindi on June 5 in a bid to evade authorities.

There are also reports the woman lied on her declaration form when entering Queensland, sparking public outrage.

A furious Stefanovic called for the couple to be not only be named and shamed but also have ‘the book thrown at them.

‘I think there is understandable anger across regional Victoria into regional NSW and then into some of those regional parts of Queensland as well particularly, because they have done such a great job protecting themselves against COVID,’ the Today show co-host fumed on Thursday morning.

‘A lot of people are furious. They have to throw the book at these people. They have to. I’m not averse to naming and shaming. We have to get this message through.’ 

The couple, who left a suburb on the edge of greater Melbourne on June 1, likely drove the scenic route so they could avoid passing through the Gold Coast – where police perform 100 random intercepts a day and have stricter border control measures in place.  

It’s understood the woman broke lockdown to visit her family in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.

She had been experiencing symptoms – including loss of her sense of smell – from June 3 but only sought a test on June 8. 

In an extraordinary twist, the pair were only detected when the couple came forward for testing because the husband needed negative results for work purposes.  

The couple crossed the NSW/Queensland border at the remote town of Goondiwindi, four hours inland of the Gold Coast where police are much more strict with their patrols

The couple crossed the NSW/Queensland border at the remote town of Goondiwindi, four hours inland of the Gold Coast where police are much more strict with their patrols

Three states are scrambling to contain a potential Covid outbreak after an infected woman left locked-down Melbourne and drove through NSW to the Sunshine Coast (Mooloolaba pictured)

Three states are scrambling to contain a potential Covid outbreak after an infected woman left locked-down Melbourne and drove through NSW to the Sunshine Coast (Mooloolaba pictured)

Six close contacts of the woman have been identified so far, including her husband who has to date tested negative.  

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The remaining five close contacts are quarantining at a house together on the Sunshine Coast until their results come back. 

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young fears the woman’s partner could become infected, given how much time the pair spent in the car together. 

Both are now at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. 

Dr Young has said it is possible the woman was infectious from the day she left Melbourne. 

‘She could well have been infectious while travelling through New South Wales and I have been working with my colleague to determine that,’ she said on Wednesday. 

Authorities are working to track down close contacts and investigate whether she and her partner broke three states’ COVID rules.

The positive woman was at Bunnings in Caloundra, QLD between 12.10pm - 12.45pm on June 7

The positive woman was at Bunnings in Caloundra, QLD between 12.10pm – 12.45pm on June 7

The woman visited Goondiwindi McDonalds on June 5 between 7.35am - 7.50am

The woman visited Goondiwindi McDonalds on June 5 between 7.35am – 7.50am

VENUES ON ALERT ACROSS NSW AND QUEENSLAND AS INFECTED WOMAN’S TIMELINE IS REVEALED 

June 1: 

Left Melbourne and drove across the border to regional New South Wales

10.30-11am: Gillenbah, Caltex Narrandera

6pm-10pm: Forbes, Vandenberg Hotel

June 2: 

7-10am: Forbes, Brew Coffee Bar

10.30-11.30am: Dubbo, Shell Petrol Station 

11.30am-2.30pm: Dubbo, Church Street Cafe

6-10pm: Dubbo, Reading Cinemas

June 3:

Midnight-10am: Dubbo, Homestead Motel 

1.30-4.30pm: Moree, Cafe Omega 

From 1.45pm onwards: Moree, Gwydir Carpark/Motel & Thermal Pools

3.30-4.30pm: Moree, Woolworths 

June 4:

All day until 7.30am June 5 : Moree, Gwydir Carpark/Motel & Thermal Pools

7-9.30am: Moree, Cafe Omega

11.50-2pm: Moree, Cafe Omega

4.30-11pm: Moree, Amaroo Tavern 

June 5:

Arrived at Goondiwindi border and crossed into Queensland

7.35-7.50am: Goondiwindi, McDonalds

11-11.15am: Toowoomba, Caltex

June 6:

Travelled to Sunshine Coast

2.45-3pm: Moffat Beach, Sunny’s

3.30 – 4.30pm: Coffee Cat in Kings Beach 

June 7:

10.45-11.30am: Stockland Caloundra Shopping Centre – Coffee Club and Kmart stores

12.10 – 12.45pm: Caloundra, Bunnings

1-2pm: Buddina, Kawana Shoppingworld

June 8:

3.50-4pm: Caloundra, Baringa IGA

 

Victorians were forbidden from travelling more than five kilometres from home at the time the woman began her trip on June 1.

NSW did not shut its border with Victoria, but any travellers from the state were supposed to abide by the lockdown rules even in NSW.

Queensland required all Victorian arrivals to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine.

Instead, the woman visited numerous venues in Queensland and NSW.

She stopped at a service station in Gillenbah and Dubbo on her way through NSW, but also visited several cafes in Forbes and Moree and caught a movie at the Reading Cinemas at Dubbo.

Eleven venues in the four towns have been identified by NSW Health as potential exposure sites.

Anyone who attended venues must immediately get tested and isolate.

NSW Health is urging anyone who has been in any of the affected towns to monitor for symptoms and get tested.

Pop-up testing clinics will be set up and opening hours extended to support the increase in testing.      

The couple had visited the Kawana Shoppingworld in Queensland between 1pm-2pm on June 7

The couple had visited the Kawana Shoppingworld in Queensland between 1pm-2pm on June 7

The pair were only detected when the couple came forward for testing because the man needed negative results for work purposes - with health authorities admitting it was down to luck that the case was caught (pictured Melbourne this week)

The pair were only detected when the couple came forward for testing because the man needed negative results for work purposes – with health authorities admitting it was down to luck that the case was caught (pictured Melbourne this week)

Queensland’s list of exposure sites include a McDonald’s restaurant in Goondiwindi, where they crossed the border from NSW, and sites on the Sunshine Coast, including at Moffat Beach, Kings Beach, Buddina, Baringa and Caloundra.

The couple also travelled through Toowoomba, west of Brisbane. The list of exposure sites is on the Queensland Health website and will inevitably grow. 

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said Queensland Police will be investigating why the couple entered into the sunshine state.  

‘We’ve got a couple that have come from Victoria, when Victoria’s in lockdown, into Queensland,’ he said.

‘We’ll examine all those issues around passes – whether they were appropriate and what has happened – it is too early to say.

‘It’s really important for us to remind the whole community that we cannot possibly check every single person moving around the country.’   



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