Bans on visitors will be imposed on hospitals, elderly care facilities and disabled shelters after a Brisbane woman tests positive for the UK’s highly contagious strain of coronavirus.
Jeannette Young, Chief Health Officer, confirmed that she would act « quickly and decisively » to protect « vulnerable » facilities.
It came after health officials revealed that a cleaner who worked in hotel quarantine and was commended by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for doing everything right tested positive for the virus.
« We are being very careful about this as we now know for sure that this person has the UK variant of the virus, » said Dr. Young.
Dr. Young said visitor restrictions would be imposed on elderly care facilities, hospitals, handicapped and correctional facilities in the hospitals and health services of Metro North, Metro South and West Moreton.
« And as always, anyone with symptoms should immediately report for testing and isolate until they get the results – especially everyone in Brisbane, » she said.
« The Eight Mile Plains Community Health Center testing clinic will remain open all night. Please consider this location for testing tonight. »
The woman, who lives in Algester on the south side of Brisbane, was on a shift at the inner-city Hotel Grand Chancellor on Saturday, where four cases of coronavirus were recently discovered in quarantine, including one with the mutated British variant.
Health warnings have been issued for Algester and the nearby suburbs of Sunnybank, Sunnybank Hills and Calamvale while authorities look for close contacts.
Queensland Health is partnering with TransLink to access Go Card data and CCTV footage from Altandi and Roma Street stations in Brisbane on Saturday that were visited by cleaning staff to drive to work.
The woman’s case sparked a new shift-by-shift saliva testing system for hotel quarantine workers in Queensland, starting on Monday, replacing the existing weekly testing process.
Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk has praised the woman for « doing everything right » after testing positive on Wednesday evening after an earlier negative result on December 29th.
Their chief health officer Jeannette Young said it was « critical » for anyone in Queensland, especially those who live in Brisbane, to get tested for the virus, if they develop symptoms at all.
« We know this is a very contagious virus and we know it can escape, » said Dr. Young. « That has happened in several other locations across the country.
Queensland Health has opened more fever clinics on the south side of Brisbane, and private pathology providers QML and SNP have extended their test center opening hours to meet the expected increase in demand.
The cleaner is believed to have been infectious for five days before testing positive after symptoms appeared on Wednesday.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said there will be a review of the state’s hotel quarantine processes to see if further measures could be taken to improve them.
« If you receive any of these cases … we will immediately review all that person’s practices, movements, any contact that person has with any of the positive cases or any of the rooms where the positive cases have been moved to the hospital, » she said.
When the National Cabinet was due to meet on Friday to discuss the UK variant, Ms. D’Ath set up a discussion on whether international travelers should be tested for the virus before boarding their flights to Australia and whether masks are mandatory on domestic routes should.
« We particularly need to look at people arriving from overseas on these international flights, what else we can do to prevent the infection from reaching our coast, » Ms. D’Ath said.
The woman’s case came when Ms. D’Ath said the Queensland border restrictions in the Greater Sydney area would be extended until at least the end of the month.
Dr. Young claimed that in the greater Sydney area it would be 28 days before the border with capital NSW reopened.
Ms. Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders to reconsider trips to NSW and Victoria in light of the ongoing outbreaks in the southern states.
« I know this is very disappointing to people at this time, but we are still concerned about the greater Sydney area, » she said of the ongoing border closure.
Ms. Palaszczuk said there had already been a review of the hotel quarantine by the national cabinet to ensure that « strict measures » were in place.
« As I’ve always said, you have to keep taking these tough measures, and like Dr. Young said, this woman (the cleaning lady) did everything right, » she said.
The prime minister insisted that Queensland cope with the arrival of hotel quarantines and said the state had not succumbed to pressure to increase the number of international arrivals in the Sunshine State.
The cleaner’s case is the first to be linked to a hotel quarantine worker in Queensland, despite the state handling nearly 60,000 people in hotel quarantine during the pandemic.
« Hotel workers or contractors may have multiple jobs or work in multiple locations with the same employer – that’s often the nature of the industry, » said a Queensland Health spokesman.
« Hotel workers or contractors are not employed or hired by Queensland Health, but by individual companies. »
Queensland recorded two new cases of the pandemic virus on Thursday, including a girl under 10 who tested positive in hotel quarantine after returning from the UK.
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