Restrictions have been placed on visits to hospitals, aged-care and disability services after a cleaner at a Brisbane quarantine hotel tested positive for the UK mutant strain of COVID-19.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said the restrictions to vulnerable facilities in Greater Brisbane was a precaution, while contact tracing efforts continued.
“We’re taking a very cautious approach with this case, now that we know for sure this person has the UK variant of the virus,” she said in a statement late Thursday.
“Evidence shows that this variant is 70 per cent more infectious than other strains.
“This is why I’m taking this firm action swiftly, to protect our most vulnerable facilities.”
The visit ban also applies to corrections facilities and will be enforced immediately and comes as Queensland bans Greater Sydney residents from entering the state until at least February.
“These restrictions apply to the Metro North, Metro South and West and West Moreton Hospital and Health and Service regions,” she said.
The cleaner, a woman in her 20s, has had the highly infectious strain of the virus, which has been spreading through the UK, since January 2.
Coincidentally, a child who recently arrived from the UK and is in hotel quarantine also tested positive for the virus but not the mutant strain.
Ms Young said earlier on Thursday that the worker was deemed infectious from January 2 and worked at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.
The cleaner was tested as part of the weekly testing regimen for quarantine hotel workers.
“So she got tested as part of our routine, weekly … testing, on December 29 and was negative,” Ms Young said.
“Since then, she has developed symptoms. So she came forward to get tested, and we got that result late last night.
“So we’ve been working with her through the night and she has been fantastic and has co-operated fully.”
Earlier, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the cleaner “did everything right” by getting tested immediately after she started showing symptoms of the virus.
The two people are among 20 active cases in Queensland, most of them in hotel quarantine, following 15,000 tests overnight.
“This cleaner did everything right,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“She developed the symptoms yesterday and got tested yesterday.”
Ms Palaszczuk also ruled out opening the borders to Greater Sydney residents in January, and said the state was watching Victoria.
“In relation to travellers coming from Greater Sydney, you will not be allowed to come to Queensland,” she said.
“This will be reviewed at the end of the month.
“I know this is very disappointing for people during this time, but we are concerned still about Greater Sydney.”
Dr Young called for testing to be ramped up so employees are tested after each shift.
“I would like every single one of these people to be tested every shift, not just every seven days,” she said.
Anyone in the Sunnybank Hills, Algester and Calamvale areas with symptoms should get tested, Dr Young said.
The new cases come as Victoria and NSW recorded zero new cases in the past 24 hour testing period.
She asked anyone who visited Orange, Nyngan and Broken Hill from January 2-3 to get tested immediately and quarantine at home until they receive a negative test result.
The hotel cleaner travelled to and from the Hotel Grand Chancellor on a train on January 2 before visiting a local shopping centre the following day.
Anyone who visited these sites at the following dates and times and is showing symptoms of coronavirus is urged to get tested immediately.
TRAIN: Altandi to Roma St station, January 2, 7am
TRAIN: Central Station to Altandi, January 2, 4pm
CALAMVALE: Woolworths Central Shopping Centre, January 3, 11am – noon
SUNNYBANK HILLS: Coles, January 5, 7.30am
SUNNYBANK HILLS: Shoppingtown Newsagent, 8.15am