Victoria's COVID-19 commander has slammed the actions of three NSW removalists who are believed to have travelled to three Riverina venues while infected with COVID-19.
A crew of three removalists travelled to South Australia through Victoria, with two of them testing positive to COVID upon returning to NSW.
NSW Health this week confirmed that COVID-positive travellers stopped at Gundagai Coles Express on Thursday, July 8, and two Shell service stations at Jindera and Hay on Saturday, July 10.
The three removalists arrived in Melbourne on Thursday, July 8 from Sydney's west. The group then travelled to South Australia the following morning, where a member of the crew was contacted by NSW Health and told he was a close contact to another positive case.
He was tested upon returning to NSW on July 10, returning a positive test result on Sunday, before another member of the crew tested positive on Monday.
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Jeroen Weimar, Victoria's COVID-19 commander, said that authorities in three states are sharing similar concerns "around lack of sufficient information provided early and properly" by the removalists.
"We've got collectively a huge job on and, to some extent, they've lit the fire and they've cleared off and we're now dealing with the consequences of that," he said.
"Frankly, we've all got more important things to do than to worry about them; the wheels of justice will get to them as and when they need to."
Mr Weimar said he had handed his file on the removalists to his "enforcement colleagues and to other state jurisdictions", including the police, to explore as necessary.
He described the crew as "a rogue operator who isn't doing the right thing", and said the freight industry is "as disappointed as we are" that this group isn't "complying with the restrictions that the industry itself has agreed to".
The Murrumbidgee Local Health District's director of public health, Tracey Oakman, said it cannot be assumed there are no cases of COVID-19 in the region, after the three exposure sites were identified.
"This information just goes to show that, although we haven't had a positive case in our region, it can't be assumed that there's no cases in our area," she said, adding that "there's always that risk" of the virus being detected in the community.
Anyone who visited Coles Express in Gundagai between 1.00am and 1.30am on July 8 or the Jindera Shell petrol station between 11.30am and 11.45am on July 10 is considered a close contact and must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.
Anyone who visited the Hay Shell petrol station between 7.30am and 8.00am on July 10 is considered a casual contact and must get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is returned.
The Hay service station was closed for deep cleaning on Wednesday, and staff have since tested negative for the virus.
Ms Oakman was asked why the travellers who visited Riverina venues had been so uncooperative, and she said "I have no idea".
"People disclose things or not disclose things for whatever reason," she said.
"We encourage people to give us the full story so that we can intervene as early as possible."
When asked why the travellers had passed through Jindera, Ms Oakman said she didn't know "why they took the route they did". She confirmed that the travel was business related.
Ms Oakman thanked everyone in the Riverina who has come forward for testing over the past few days.
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