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PM joins Qld border row as NSW trace cases

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is pushing for Queensland to reopen its border as NSW races to trace two mystery COVID-19 cases.

Queensland has set NSW a benchmark of 28 days without any unlinked community transmission of the virus before the border reopens.

NSW Health are tracing the source of a local outbreak that has infected a Sydney nurse and another person before the border clock is reset.

Scott Morrison took aim at Queensland’s border closure as he hit the hustings in the state election campaign on Saturday.

“You would only have borders in for as long as you absolutely have to have them,” the prime minister said.

“They are not something I suppose to boast of, they are things that are necessary, but are regrettably necessary in many occasions.

“So when you have to have them, well, let’s have them based on medical advice and for only as long as you absolutely have to, because the longer they are there, the more they do stop jobs.”

The Sunshine State had fresh concerns after wastewater testing picked up traces of COVID-19 in Townsville, which has been clear of the virus for weeks.

Meanwhile, Victoria recorded another 14 cases, as the active infections there remained below 200 for a second consecutive day.

Premier Daniel Andrews curbed expectations of significantly easing Melbourne’s lockdown next week with new infections persisting.

“We’re very close, but we haven’t quite achieved that yet,” he said.

Melbourne is due to join regional Victoria at the third stage of the plan on October 19.

Lockdown will be eased if the city can average fewer than five cases and five unlinked cases in the preceding fortnight.

Restrictions on Melburnians leaving their homes would be eased, public gatherings of up to 10 would be allowed and hospitality businesses and retailers could increase trading.

A second straight day without a COVID death kept the national toll at 897.

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