Close contacts of COVID-19 doctor test negative as Brisbane Hotel Grand Chancellor in lockdown again



Queensland has one new case of COVID-19, but it is likely historical and not connected to the case of a doctor at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital who tested positive, the state’s health authorities say.

Three close contacts of the doctor tested negative overnight.

The doctor assessed two coronavirus patients on Wednesday at the Woolloongabba hospital, then tested positive late on Friday.

Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor is also in lockdown as authorities investigate whether an overseas case announced yesterday was caught in quarantine.

Sixty-one staff and seven patients at the Princess Alexandra Hospital were identified as potential close contacts and test results are expected over coming days.

Queensland Deputy Chief Health Officer Sonya Bennett said contact tracing was now essentially complete, with 238 contacts traced from four venues the doctor had attended on Thursday.

“Most reassuringly, her three close contacts or associates, friends and colleagues, who were with her most of that time at the venues have tested negative,” she said.

“That’s not to say that they’re completely out of the woods — we’ll continue to monitor them while in quarantine and we also expect to get test results back from those community contacts in the next few days.”

Both patients the doctor had come into contact with had the UK strain and Queensland Health has confirmed today the doctor does have the UK strain.

“Genomic sequencing hasn’t quite confirmed the link — there wasn’t enough virus — but what the laboratory was able to do was what we call partially sequence [that] indicates there is a link between that healthcare worker and one of the [two] cases she assessed,” Dr Bennett said.

“Unfortunately, there was another new case that we announced yesterday and the whole genomic sequencing also indicates that case may be potentially linked to that first case — that is under review.

“They both travelled through the same area on the way and this new case from yesterday tested positive on what we call day 12 — it was their exit test and they were symptomatic.

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Dr Bennett said the two cases were on the same floor of the Hotel Grand Chancellor at overlapping times.

She said the doctor had assessed the two coronavirus patients for admission at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, which would have involved a face-to-face conversation.

Queensland Health said the doctor was wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and there had been no identified breaches.

“All our hospitals in Queensland follow the national guidelines, and there’ve been national guidelines that have been continually revised with respect to COVID,” Dr Bennett said.

“As this occurred overnight, she [the doctor] wasn’t assigned a particular ward.

“My understanding is she moved through the hospital depending on where the need was, and that’s exactly what the contact tracing has followed and probably why there’s quite a large number of staff involved.

Dr Sonya Bennett speaks at a press conference in Brisbane.
Dr Bennett said the two cases were on the same floor of the Hotel Grand Chancellor at overlapping times.(AAP: Albert Perez)

Hotel Grand Chancellor back in lockdown

Dr Bennett said the cases had been quarantining at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

The hotel was at the centre of a cluster that sent Greater Brisbane into a three-day lockdown at the beginning of the year, after a hotel cleaner caught the disease.

“The hotel will go into lockdown, not accepting any more residents, and not discharging any return travellers for the next 72 hours, until we understand better the context of that event,” Dr Bennett said.

“It’s still only a potential event that we need to investigate.”

Dr Bennett said authorities were acting with extreme caution and there was no link to the cluster in early January.

Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane from a distance across the road.
The hotel was at the centre of a cluster that sent Greater Brisbane into a three-day lockdown in January this year.(ABC News: Nik Coleman)

Inadequate PPE claims rejected

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said she “absolutely refutes” the Australian Medical Association’s assertion that PPE was not adequate.

“We comply with the national guidelines and standards — I think we have to be careful in making assumptions about what has happened in this individual case,” Ms D’Ath said.

“I’ve been advised that the doctor is wearing the appropriate PPE but we will go through an investigation to try and identify how this transmission occurred.”

She said it was “not helpful to be speculating or making accusations”.

“Even if this doctor had had their first vaccination or their second vaccination, it doesn’t guarantee they won’t get COVID — what it guarantees is they’re not going to end up in ICU or on a ventilator and ending up chronically ill,” Ms D’Ath said.

“This particular doctor did not routinely work in the quarantine ward — she was called on, as I understand, around 2:30 in the morning to come and assess a couple of arrivals from hotel quarantine who were showing symptoms.

“It is not the case that we are not delivering the vaccine to all of those doctors and nurses who work in those COVID wards every single day.”

Yvette D'Ath speaks at a podium at a press conference.
Ms D’Ath said it was “not helpful to be speculating or making accusations”.(ABC News: Sally Eeles)

Meanwhile, United Workers Union national ambulance coordinator Fiona Scanlon said ambulance ramping had increased while patients were being limited to the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

“This has created an extra demand at other hospitals, including increased ramping at the RBWH [Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital],” she said.

“Ambulance officers are working with these changes and ensuring patients’ safety until the PA [Princess Alexandra Hospital] can reopen to standard capacity.”

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