Queensland coronavirus testing rates triple as authorities confirm new case of community COVID transmission



Queensland health authorities have detected another case of community transmission linked to a Stafford man who was confirmed to have coronavirus on Thursday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a Strathpine man had tested positive and contact tracers were still determining his movements.

She said a list of high-risk places would soon be released.

The Strathpine man was a close contact of the landscape gardener from Stafford, whose case was linked to another cluster in early March involving the highly infectious UK strain of the virus, known as B117.

That cluster involved a doctor at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital and two returned travellers who were in hotel quarantine.

Authorities are still investigating how the Stafford man contracted the virus, but say it is likely he caught it from an unidentified intermediary.

Cars outside a COVID testing clinic
Cars queuing outside a drive-through COVID testing clinic at Highgate Hill on Saturday.(ABC News: Cameron Lang )

Queensland Health released a list of places he visited while infectious and urged people who were there at the same time to get tested and quarantine until they receive a negative result.

Late on Friday authorities designated Mamma’s Italian Waterfront Restaurant at Redcliffe as a high-risk location, urging anyone who attended the restaurant between 12:30pm and 3:10pm on Sunday, March 21, to quarantine themselves at home immediately and call 13HEALTH.

“What we learned in the last 24 hours is this gentleman had actually been at the restaurant for almost three hours. And so consequently, that means that there’s greater risk,” said Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.

Exterior of Mamma's restaurant
Mamma’s Restaurant in Redcliffe was named as a high-risk site after a confirmed case dined there on Sunday, March 21.(ABC News: Lucas Hill )

The other affected locations are:

Saturday March 20

  • All of Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre between midday and 2:16pm
  • Market Organics at Newmarket, between 2:45pm and 3:00pm
  • Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream at Everton Park, between 9:20pm and 9:25pm

Sunday March 21

  • Genki Mart at Alderley, between 10:30am and 10:46am

Monday March 22

  • Guzman y Gomez drive through at Stafford, between 12:20pm and 12:25pm
  • Bunnings at Stafford, between 12:40pm and 12:50pm

Thursday March 25

  • Aldi at Stafford, between 8:30am and 8:45am
  • Nundah Respiratory Clinic at Nundah, between 11:15am and 11:40am

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said testing rates tripled on Friday after news of the community case was announced, and it was important for more people to come forward.

“They need to come forward, anyone, anywhere in Brisbane or Moreton Bay regional councils who’s unwell with any symptoms … that’s really important.”

Long queues formed outside testing clinics in Brisbane on Saturday, as people heeded the advice.

Masks were not mandatory in the state’s south-east, Dr Young said, but she advised people in Brisbane and Moreton Bay to wear them in crowded places.

On Saturday, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) said masks would be mandatory at the theatre, effective immediately.

“In this fast-changing environment and in the interest of being proactive, we wish to advise that masks are now mandatory,” QPAC tweeted.

A sign on top of one of the buildings at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane
Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.(ABC News: Stefan Lowe)

Request to halve overseas arrivals

Alongside the new case of community transmission, Queensland recorded five new COVID cases in hotel quarantine over the last 24 hours.

There are now 71 active cases in Queensland, and the state’s hospitals are at the same level of capacity as the peak of the pandemic last year, Ms Palaszczuk said.

“That is not to say our hospitals cannot cope — they will be able to cope — but [we are seeing a] large influx and high rate of returned travellers being positive,” she said.

The Premier said she had asked the Prime Minister to halve the state’s overseas arrival intake, citing concerns of the high rates of positive cases in returned travellers.

Queensland takes 1,300 returned travellers each fortnight and Ms Palaszczuk said positive cases were being recorded in hotel quarantine every day.

Travel advice

Current restrictions in place for Queensland travellers include the state being classified as an “orange zone” by Victoria, meaning Queenslanders will need a permit to enter.

In New South Wales, close contacts of the two men will not be allowed to enter the state at all, and people who have been to the same locations as the men are being asked to get tested and self-isolate until they receive their result.

The WA government has announced that all arrivals into the state from Queensland will now have to be tested for COVID-19 and self-quarantine for 14 days or until they return a negative test.

The directive is effective immediately, meaning all arrivals must be tested within 48 hours.

Authorities say the “interim border control” will be in place until at least 12.01am on Tuesday.

Tasmania is asking anyone who has been in Brisbane or Moreton Bay since March 8 to monitor for symptoms.

Those who are yet to travel from parts of Queensland that Tasmania has designated as high-risk must seek permission to enter before they travel.

Similar restrictions are in place in the ACT and NT.

South Australia still lists Queensland as a “Low Community-Transmission Zone”.

Travellers are being urged to check government websites for the latest advice.

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