As the New South Wales-Victoria border reopens, police have charged several people in the Albury area with breaching isolation rules after testing positive to COVID-19, including one with a fake vaccine passport.
- A man is accused by police of breaching isolation to sell drugs
- Two more COVID-positive aged care residents have died
- Case numbers are expected to rise as borders open further
Murray River Police District Commander Paul Smith said a 32-year-old man was arrested on Thursday after allegedly facilitating drug deals in the community while infectious.
It is understood the man had received a positive COVID test result and was under isolation orders.
“On top of that he was in possession of a fraudulent COVID vaccine passport,” Commander Smith said.
The man will appear before Albury Local Court later this month.
Commander Smith said it was not the first investigation into fake COVID vaccine passports locally.
“If you’re in a business and you have concern about whether or not a person has a valid vaccination passport, give your local police a ring and make that inquiry,” he said.
Disregard for public health
Two other COVID-positive people were caught in breach of isolation requirements in Albury this week.
One man received a penalty notice after he was found walking around Dean Street in the early hours of the morning during his isolation period.
Another man is also before the courts after he was intercepted by police for allegedly driving while intoxicated.
On further investigation, police found the man was COVID-positive and in breach of isolation orders.
“If you’ve got a direction from Health to stay at home because you’ve been identified as a risk, whether it be positive or a close contact, please do that,” Commander Smith said.
“For your safety, for your family’s safety, for the community’s safety.”
Albury Wodonga is still grappling with its current outbreak, recording 47 new cases on Friday.
There are concerns that number could spike with people in the community disregarding public health orders.
Two more COVID deaths
Meanwhile, a woman in her 90s has become the sixth person to die at Mercy Place aged care facility after testing positive to COVID-19.
She had received two doses of vaccine.
A woman in her 80s also died in Albury; she had received one dose. She is the first resident at Southern Cross residential aged care facility to die with COVID as it also manages an outbreak.
Border re-opens to fully vaccinated
Victoria’s COVID Commander, Jeroen Weimar, visited Wodonga on Friday when both Victoria and New South Wales re-opened borders to fully vaccinated people.
“It’s great to see the borders opening up a little bit more again today,” he said.
“More people are moving around both from Melbourne and Sydney and from all across both states … that’s a good and positive thing, but we will see more cases as a result of that.”
Fifteen per cent of all COVID cases are in regional Victoria, and that figure is expected to grow in coming weeks.
Mr Weimar said it was too early to give a guarantee that borders would not be snapped shut again, but that vaccination was a key component in avoiding that.
“We have no desire to go back to putting in border closures, but equally if there’s some unanticipated calamity, then we have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to manage that.”