Torres Strait on COVID-19 alert after border breached
AUTHORITIES in the Torres Strait are monitoring the risk of COVID-19 after four Papua New Guinean nationals allegedly breached the Australia border and landed their boat in the middle of the night.
The Torres Strait Local Disaster Management Group, comprising the two Torres councils, confirmed in a statement that the breach occurred about 3am Wednesday on Saibai Island.
The island is just 4km from the Papua New Guinea mainland.
The individuals, from the coastal village of Sigabadaru, had minimal contact with the Saibai community, apart from a brief interaction with a local resident they intended to visit.
Authorities were alerted and the group left the community.
The statement said a representative from Queensland Health had confirmed the resident involved in the interaction had been assessed as low risk for coronavirus.
However, the resident will be tested for COVID-19 and undergo daily temperature checking.
Disaster management group leaders Mayor Phillemon Mosby from Torres Strait Island Regional Council and Mayor Vonda Malone from Torres Shire Council said communities should be "alert but not alarmed".
"This was an important reminder of the need for increased personnel and vessels to remain protecting Australia's most vulnerable border to remain in place well into the new year," they said.
The Torres Strait Treaty normally permits cross-border travel for traditional purposes, between
inhabitants of 14 Torres Strait communities and 13 coastal villages of Papua New Guinea, however a ban on cross-border movement has been in place, due to the coronavirus pandemic, since February.
The Torres Strait region has not recorded a case of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
For more information on COVID-19 symptoms and where to get tested, visit the Queensland Health fever clinic page.
Originally published as Torres Strait on COVID-19 alert after border breached