Queensland has recorded three new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, two in hotel quarantine and a historical case from Cairns, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says.
The Premier said she was not “worried” about the latest cases and all 129 people who were transferred from the ill-fated Hotel Grand Chancellor have tested negative.
The hotel, in Brisbane’s CBD, was evacuated and shut on Wednesday as authorities investigate the spread of the UK variant of COVID-19 on its seventh floor
Of the 147 people who had left the hotel since December 30, those who were in Queensland have been tested, Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Of the 226 staff, all have been contacted and some have been tested, so we’re still working through that,” she said.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the vast majority of people related to the Hotel Grand Chancellor had now been followed up.
“We’re going to do some further work over the next 24 hours, and police will continue their investigation, and we’ll be able to work out what we need to do going forward relating to that hotel.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the community coming forward to get tested and I’m getting increasingly comfortable, very comfortable, that we’ve not had community spread there.”
Dr Young also thanks residents of Greater Brisbane for continuing to use masks.
One case ‘persistent shedding’
The latest cases in Queensland were a man in his 60s who had travelled from the Philippines and another a man, in his 40s, who had travelled from the United States, Dr Young said.
She said the Cairns case was a man in his 40s who went through hotel quarantine and tested negative after returning to Australia from the Congo in September.
He however returned a positive result recently when tested as a condition of returning to work.
“He’s totally well, asymptomatic, so we think that is most likely a persistent shedding,” Dr Young said.
“We know you can shed for up to nine months when you’re positive.
“It probably explains why we’ve continued to have all of those positive sewage results in north Cairns.”
Investigation into Grand Chancellor cluster ongoing
Queensland police and Queensland Health are investigating the cluster at the Hotel Grand Chancellor and will deliver joint recommendations for the state’s hotel quarantine program.
So far six cases have been linked to the hotel’s seventh floor.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said walls, materials, and services areas of the hotel have been swabbed and are being tested.
She said there was a “fair way to go” with the investigation.
Three of the six infected people have been interviewed as some are still sick in hospital.
“I’ve asked for a full audit of all quarantine hotels in terms of their CCTV footage,” Commissioner Carroll said.
“If we find there is any gap in that whole process, we [will] make sure we put CCTV footage into those hotels.”
Commissioner Carroll also referenced media reports about a father and daughter from hotel quarantine, later confirmed to have the UK strain of the virus, leaving the Hotel Grand Chancellor for medical treatment.
“I can tell you from extensive independent inquiries that the daughter was wearing full PPE at all times,” she said.
“She was transported by QAS — not by taxi or Uber — from the hospital back to the hotel and was then escorted by two police officers back to their room.”
Dr Young said the daughter was allowed to travel with her father who did not speak fluent English.
“His English is not great, so the daughter went with him. She was treated as if she was positive. They were managed in negative pressure rooms … so there is no risk,” Dr Young said.
She said it was not unexpected that some people in hotel quarantine would need to leave for medical treatment.
“He was taken there because he had some health issues, which were probably early symptoms of his COVID, in retrospect,” she said.
She also said there was no breach by ambulance officers who were wearing full PPE.