Aus Open player’s COVID case under investigation
Health authorities are investigating the case of an Australian Open player who has tested positive for coronavirus, after another was "reclassified" as a past infection.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Tuesday that two players were among three news cases linked to the Open.
He said there were a total of seven cases connected to the tournament, after two further cases were reclassified as shedding from past infections rather than current cases.
Tennis Australia appeared to refute Prof Sutton's statement with boss Craig Tiley telling media that "none" of the positive cases were players.
He said no player had been transferred to a health hotel.
The Herald Sun has since confirmed with the state government that a player is among the two cases reclassified as viral shedding.
Another player is among the seven cases but is not in a health hotel as their case is under investigation with the possibility it could also be reclassified.
AUS OPEN BOSS SLAMS MOANING PLAYERS
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has slapped down tennis players whingeing on social media about their quarantine.
The tournament director blasted the "loudest" minority of players who complained online, with one even comparing quarantine to a prison term.
Seven coronavirus cases have been linked to the grand slam event, with two others - a player and a non-player - reclassified as shedding from past infections.
One player is among the seven but is not in a health hotel as their case is under investigation with the possibility it could also be reclassified.
Mr Tiley implored players to stop venting on social media.
"If you've got a complaint, come to me," he said.
"I don't have any problem with handling it. But I do have a problem if it's someone that has been working round the clock and doesn't get paid a lot of money and has a great passion for the game, loves the players, and is being treated like that. That hurts.
"What are you really trying to achieve? You're not solving the problem."
Mr Tiley said claims players were unaware of the risk of having to complete a two-week hard quarantine if deemed a close contact of a case were "simply not true".
Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut on Tuesday blasted the strict 14-day quarantine conditions, likening them to "jail".
"These people (Victorian government) have no idea about tennis, about sports, no idea about anything," the world No 13 said in an interview. "It's a complete disaster, because of the control of everything, it is not Tennis Australia, it's the people from the government."
Kazakh tennis player Yulia Putintseva also campaigned for players to have 10 minutes of fresh air a day, complaining her windows did not open.
The world No 28 posted a photo of herself on Tuesday holding a sign that read "we need fresh air to breathe".
But other players backed off their criticism after widespread backlash from Australians.
Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka - one of 72 players in hard lockdown - called for the tennis elites to show more "co-operation, understanding and empathy".
Australian player Arina Rodionova said she was "embarrassed" to be a tennis player, and would instead tell people she was a "full-time gardener and a cleaner on the weekend".
More than 400 players joined a call with organisers on Monday night, which Mr Tiley said included some "big hits".
But he said the criticism had galvanised the Australian tennis community, including the game's greats who encouraged him to "ignore the sideshow".
"The Australian Open is a special asset to Australians and it got attacked a little bit and the Australian public didn't like that, and you saw the responses," he said.
Mr Tiley also dismissed a push from players to reduce the men's competition to a best-of-three-sets format, saying a "buffer week" had been scheduled between the end of quarantine and the start of the Open to allow them to prepare.
The Herald Sun revealed on Monday players had raised the idea amid concerns that five sets would be "brutal".
Health authorities said on Tuesday the players in lockdown would have to serve out their 14 days, despite the two cases - men aged in their 30s and 50s - being reclassified.
The three new cases included a woman in her 20s and two men in their 30s.
Daniel Andrews was on Tuesday holding firm on the government's refusal to ease quarantine conditions.
"We are not going to cut corners, we are not making special arrangements," the Premier said
Follow live updates on the Australian Open COVID crisis here.
BORDER REOPENS TO MOST OF SYDNEY
Thousands of Victorians can finally come home after the state reopened its borders with most of NSW.
However, travel to Victoria is still blocked from 10 Sydney municipalities that remain red zones amid concerns about transmission in those areas.
The ongoing restrictions, in place since Victoria slammed shut its border to NSW on New Year's Eve, has increased tensions between the states.
Mr Andrews said the 10 red zones were to be downgraded to orange simultaneously.
"I don't believe that it will be all 10 moving at the one time," he said.
"I think that they're all a bit different. They all focus on the Croydon case as well as the Berala cluster, the one through the bottle shop.
"But it's being monitored closely and as soon as we can possibly make that change and provide a permit framework … that would allow people to come back, then we will do that.
"But those red zone classifications will be in place not a moment longer than they need to be."
Asked whether Brisbane could soon be made a green zone, Mr Andrews on Tuesday said "that's a real chance", giving hope to families stuck in travel limbo.
However, he flagged no change to zones relating to Sydney's outbreaks.
Menawhile, Australia's top health official has hosed down hopes of overseas holidays this year.
Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy said on Monday it was unlikely the international border would reopen in 2021 to allow Australians to freely travel abroad.
"It's a big open question … I think we'll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions," Prof Murphy said.
"Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don't know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus, and it's likely that quarantine will continue for some time."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday criticised the ongoing domestic restrictions, saying other states had no right to declare hot spots after the federal government on Sunday announced there were no remaining coronavirus hot spots in Australia.
Ms Berejiklian said she didn't want to "single out" other premiers but said they should not get to decide what was a coronavirus hot spot and what was not.
"The central health authorities have deemed there isn't a single place in Australia that's a hot spot. Why should any premier determine what is a hot spot?" Ms Berejiklian said.
Scott Morrison also urged "greater transparency and predictability" on state borders.
The Prime Minister said it was "not my job to be critical" of premiers, but suggested it was important leaders including Daniel Andrews were accountable for decisions that caused "great frustration and inconvenience".
The Victorian Premier said public health officials were still concerned about transmission in the 10 remaining red zones of Blacktown City, Burwood, Canada Bay City, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield City, Inner West, Liverpool City, Parramatta City and Strathfield.
"What the detailed and extensive evaluation of the epidemiological conditions in Sydney has revealed is that transmission and cases are pretty much confined to those 10 local government areas," Mr Andrews said.
From 6pm Monday, 25 Sydney areas were reclassified as orange zones, along with the Blue Mountains and Wollongong, clearing the way for Victorians there to return home.
They need travel permits, to be tested for COVID-19 on their return, and to self-isolate until cleared.
A further 16 areas along the Victorian border were reclassified from orange to green.
TEARFUL REUNIONS AS BORDER RULES EASE
There were tears of joy at Melbourne Airport on Tuesday morning as Victorians were reunited with their loved ones after being stranded for weeks in Sydney.
Jacki Clark ran into the arms of her partner Dan after the pair spent the last six weeks apart.
Ms Clark, 33, travelled to the Northern Beaches in Sydney for a getaway before Christmas but her festive plans were ruined when the area was placed into lockdown.
After over a month of uncertainty, the St Kilda woman was emotional after her flight touched down in Melbourne.
"(Dan) was supposed to come up for Christmas but obviously couldn't when everything happened. Then, I was stuck there," Ms Clark said.
"It's been very stressful, really awful not being able to get home. But it's over now.
"I applied for an exemption nearly a month ago and I never got it so I just had to wait for the border to open.
"It was a big relief (when the announcement was made on Monday). There were a lot of happy tears."
Shannon Polevoy greeted girlfriend Jayda Gursel with a hug and a kiss after she passed through the arrival gates.
The Sydneysider, 19, said she couldn't wait to hop on a flight after the Victorian government gave travellers the green light.
"I live in Sydney and Shannon lives in Melbourne. We go to uni together in NSW but because it was all online last year, we've had to do the travelling back and forth whenever we could," Ms Gursel explained.
"I've been on and off coming to Melbourne for the past year. We were planning to spend New Year's together but when they locked the border, that couldn't happen.
"I was so excited (when the news broke). My friends screenshotted the announcement straight away and messaged me about it."
Naomi Lucas-Smith jetted in from Sydney with her kids Kai, 12, and Mia, 10, so they can spend some quality time with their grandparents in Glen Waverley.
"My dad turned 80 so we're going to see him before school starts back in February.
"We were originally supposed to come just after Christmas - Kai was looking forward to going to the Boxing Day Test but that didn't happen.
"It'll be good to have the family time."
Originally published as Aus Open player's COVID case under investigation