Sewerage checks have revealed a positive COVID-19 case may have visited a popular Queensland tourism spot, as two new cases, including an aged care worker in regional Queensland, are confirmed on Thursday.
An aged care worker in Laidley, in the Lockyer Valley region is one of two new cases announced on Thursday, understood to be the first case of community transmission to hit the region.
It comes as a new pop-up fever clinic is established at Airlie Beach after sewage surveillance suggested a positive COVID-19 case may have been in the region.
“We have ensured pop up clinics in tourist locations to ensure that if any cases of COVID-19 have come in via the tourism industry, we can identify them,” Mr Miles said.
“We have been working with UQ on a surveillance program in sewerage (to determine COVID-19 cases).
“Some results have recently suggested may have been a case in the Airlie Beach area.
“Mackay HHS is standing up a fever clinic at Airlie Beach today.
“This is not considered a high risk … it is of the utmost precaution.”
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said it was “very early days for sewerage testing”.
“We’re not quite sure what that means,” she said.
“We know it is a tourist destination, lots of people travel there from within Queensland and other states that can come here.
“It’s important we’re a little bit more alert when there’s tourists involved.
“We don’t know what this means … there’s been a few ships off the coast with positive cases.
“It doesn’t matter where it’s come from, this is in place.”
Dr Young said the viral fragments were not infectious and was not infectious or deemed a high risk.
“Drinking water is treated before it reaches your tap and is safe to drink and shower. There is no risk in watering your garden or swimming,” she said.
“It’s also important to remember that the usual wastewater treatment processes are specifically designed to get rid of microorganisms, including viruses, by removing or killing them, before any water is returned to the environment.”
The new cases confirmed on Thursday are said to be a man and woman both in their 30s, who are known to each other and close contacts of previously confirmed cases.
One of them is a staff member at the Karinya Place aged care centre at Laidley who did not work while experiencing symptoms, owner Carinity said in a statement.
A resident and a small number of staff are self-isolating “as a precaution.”
“Testing of residents and staff commenced overnight and will continue today,” a Carinity spokesperson said.
“Carinity’s number one priority is providing a safe home for our residents and a safe workplace for our team …
“We are working closely and Queensland Health and the Australian Government Department of Health to prevent the spread of infection within the facility.”
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said it was promising to see rapid response was working.
“It has been close to two weeks since we saw the first case at the Wacol Youth Detention Centre,” he said.
“And we are only seeing a small number of cases … generally among those who have had contact with other cases.
“This shows our rapid response is working.”
It comes after nine new locations across Queensland’s southeast have been added to an extensive COVID-19 contact tracing list as pressure over the state’s border closure reaches boiling point.
Two people tested positive to the virus on Wednesday, including a 30-year-old health worker, understood to be the partner of a 37-year-old nurse who was diagnosed earlier in the week. The 30-year-old tested positive on Wednesday but had been in quarantine for several days.
A student from Staines Memorial College in Redbank Plains, in Brisbane’s southwest, was also confirmed as a new case on Wednesday, the third connected to the school.
It’s understood both new cases are linked to the growing Queensland Corrective Services Academy cluster.
An Ipswich Woolworths store has been deep cleaned after a positive case visited the store on two consecutive days. Several food outlets, a pharmacy and spa retailers have also been placed on Queensland Health’s contact tracing list.
On Wednesday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was “comfortable” with the latest outbreak, insinuating it was contained.
The pressure will be on to keep the cluster under control with the AFL Grand Final to be moved to Adelaide if cases balloon in Queensland.
It comes as federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham is expected to announce the $33 billion cost of border closures within Australia.
New research is set to be released on Thursday that details the huge hit the national economy has taken since the onset of the COVID pandemic.
Tourism Research Australia anticipated interstate tourism would have been worth $33 billion this financial year.
Mr Birmingham said he wanted premiers and chief ministers to take a “sensible and proportionate” approach to border restrictions in order to save jobs and businesses.
“Inconsistent and disproportionate approaches to border restrictions by some states and territories will continue to cause job losses in part of our tourism industry,” he said.
“We risk more job losses if borders remain shut any longer than necessary.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders will meet for National Cabinet on Friday, where Mr Morrison will present a plan for a national COVID-19 hotspot definition with a traffic-light-style system for border closures.
Earlier this week, Ms Palaszczuk said the border closure would not change anytime soon.
“I will continue to keep our borders closed to keep Queenslanders safe. I won’t be moved on this,” she said.
“There was a federal court decision that states can rely on the health advice to keep their borders closed. That’s exactly what we’ll continue to do.”
NEW CONTACT TRACING LOCATIONS
If you’ve visited one of these locations at these times, Queensland Health advises you monitor your health and get tested if you have develop symptoms:
- August 29, 10.30am-11am: Spa Choice Pacific Highway, Springwood
- August 29, 11am-11.30am: Spa World Compton Rd, Underwood
- August 29, 11.55am-noon: Dosa Hut, Springfield
- August 29, noon-12.05pm: Indian Spice Shop, Springfield
- August 30, noon-12.20pm: Woolworths, Yamanto
- August 30, 11.45am-12.30pm: Dominos, Yamanto
- August 31, 11am-11.15am: Woolworths, Yamanto
- August 31, 11.20am-11.40am: Country Market, Yamanto
- August 31, 11.40am-11.45am: Priceline, Yamanto