Herald Sun

DUMB AND DUMBER FROM MELBOURNE TO COVID MAYHEM

Teens’ reckless holiday

- JESSICA MARSZALEK

A pair of reckless Brisbane women who travelled to Melbourne — allegedly to steal luxury handbags — then flew home via Sydney infected with COVID-19 and lied to avoid quarantine, have sparked chaos in two states. Queensland will shut its border to Sydneyside­rs, AFL teams are evacuating NSW, and Brisbane nursing homes are being locked down because the teens spent eight days in the community while sick.

THE reckless actions of two teenage women from Brisbane, who travelled to Melbourne for an alleged shopliftin­g mission before lying to Queensland authoritie­s about where they’d been, are causing havoc across two states.

The 19-year-olds have since tested positive to coronaviru­s, after spending eight days moving around multiple locations in Brisbane while sick, with reports they travelled to Melbourne to allegedly steal luxury handbags to sell.

Their actions created chaos, with news of them testing positive to coronaviru­s seeing Queensland shut its borders to Sydney, schools and shopping centres closed and nursing homes locked down.

Hundreds of people in Queensland who may have been exposed to the women while they were sick were tested on Wednesday and AFL clubs were scrambling to head north to beat the border closure.

The pair became Queensland’s first positive COVID-19 cases outside quarantine since May when Olivia Winnie Muranga — a cleaner at the nowclosed Parklands Christian College — got a coronaviru­s test on Monday after days of feeling ill. Her travel companion Diana Lasu also tested positive — sparking fears of a second wave of the pandemic in Queensland.

They have each been fined $4000 for making false declaratio­ns on their border paperwork, along with another travel companion, who is awaiting her COVID-19 test result.

It’s understood authoritie­s are investigat­ing whether the women went to a party during their stay, broken up by authoritie­s who found about 20 people at a short-term rental in Melbourne’s CBD.

A fourth woman — the 22year-old sister of one of the COVID-positive girls — also tested positive to the virus late on Wednesday, forcing the closure of Chatswood Hills

State School where she works at the after-school care service.

Authoritie­s are bracing for a cluster in Brisbane’s south as contact tracers continue to chart where they went after returning from Melbourne.

Police also launched a criminal probe into how the girls evaded Queensland’s border restrictio­ns that require people to isolate at a hotel if they have been to a COVID-19 hot spot, such as Victoria.

Part of their investigat­ion will be into how their flights were booked from Melbourne to Brisbane, with a short layover at Sydney airport, and whether they used fake names and contact details on their border declaratio­n passes.

It’s understood Ms Muranga went to work at Parklands

Christian College in Brisbane’s ne’s southern suburbs — where her mother also works — for two days before calling in sick on Friday and visiting the doctor on Saturday, when she was told to immediatel­y get tested.

Instead, she continued to socialise in Ipswich and Brisbane, going out to restaurant­s and a cocktail bar.

Finally getting tested on Monday, it’s understood Ms Muranga was out in the community before her positive test result came back on Tuesday.

Authoritie­s have described the new cases as a “perfect storm”, with a big number of public places visited, the girls living in big households of up to 10 people, and authoritie­s working to provide informatio­n in various languages to the African-Australian community.

Authoritie­s are also examining whether the girls visited the Free Pentecosta­l Church of Australia in Springfiel­d, Queensland.

Aged care homes in Brisbane’s south have been ordered to lockdown as a precaution­ary measure against potential community spread, prohibitin­g all visitors, instigatin­g temperatur­e checks and prohibitin­g staff from working across facilities.

At least 15 close contacts of the COVID-19 cases will be kept in hotel quarantine and the infectious girls are at the PA Hospital.

Scores of others from both schools were also last night in home quarantine after being ruled as close contacts of the three positive cases.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there would be a “thorough police investigat­ion” into the behaviour of the women.

“I’m absolutely furious that this has happened,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“These two people have gone to Victoria, have come back and have given misleading informatio­n to authoritie­s.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she was “very, very disappoint­ed” in the “reckless” behaviour. “These two young women have been out in the community for eight days whilst unwell,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk announced the new border restrictio­ns between Queensland and greater Sydney after the women tested positive to coronaviru­s, putting AFL teams in a race against time to beat the closure.

Sydney and GWS will have to relocate interstate in the next 48 hours before the Swans play St Kilda at the Gabba on Saturday and the Giants play the Suns at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

The NRL obtained assurances from the Queensland Government their travel exemptions, for their NSW based teams, would remain in place despite the latest border closure.

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 ??  ?? Olivia Winnie Muranga and (left) Diana Lasu.
Olivia Winnie Muranga and (left) Diana Lasu.

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