Six returned travellers have tested positive to the UK variant of COVID-19 in NSW and a further four travellers have tested positive for the South African variant.
"There are concerns that this South African strain does share a similar mutation from the UK, that may be associated with increased transmissibility," NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said on Friday.
NSW has recorded four new cases of locally acquired COVID-19 in the most recent 24 hours.
Two were close contacts linked to the Berala cluster, one was a close case linked to the Croydon cluster and one was the man reported yesterday connected to the Avalon cluster.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said new strains and mutations of a virus was "obviously a challenge" but not unusual.
"That is what happens and is the reality. Many viruses circulate to our community that in past times, like SARS, MERS and so on, were major issues for parts of the world. From time to time variation can occur which presents increased and decreased risk," he said.
There were 26,112 tests in the 24 hours until 8pm yesterday.
"But that number is on the low side," acting NSW Premier John Barilaro said. "My plea at the end of this week is to continue the testing over the weekend, continue to get tested regardless of symptoms, mild or not."
Mr Barilaro has said the state will not be closing the border to Queensland after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a lockdown for Greater Brisbane.
"At no point during this pandemic have we ever had a knee-jerk reaction or treated the border like a light switch," he said.
"But we will be applying the same level of restrictions to those who are coming or those who are in NSW who have come from those areas [in Queensland]."
"If you are in the midst of travelling from Brisbane, as we speak, to NSW and you come from those [lockdown] areas, we expect you to abide by the isolation rules that would have applied to you as if you stayed Brisbane.
Ms Palaszczuk said a lockdown for Greater Brisbane is not an overreaction, but a strong response to the virulent UK strain discovered yesterday in a female hotel quarantine cleaner.
"It is unprecedented, and it has to be done," she said.
Masks are now mandatory in Brisbane and surrounding councils for three days, from Friday to Monday.
The Premier says her advice from Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young is that a three-day lockdown could prevent a 30-day lockdown.
"These are tough, strong measures, like I said this is incredibly infectious," the Premier said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison commended the Queensland Premier's decision to implement the lockdown.
"Wise call [by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk] to have a brief lockdown to enable Queensland health authorities to get on top of the UK strain case in Brisbane," Mr Morrison wrote on Twitter.
Victoria has recorded a second doughnut day, with no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the state.
This is from 23,108 tests that were processed. A further 10,000 results were delayed due to technical issues, and are still to come from yesterday.
One case was detected in an international traveller in hotel quarantine.
More to come
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