A nurse is seen working at a Covid-19 testing clinic at Ipswich Hospital.
A nurse is seen working at a Covid-19 testing clinic at Ipswich Hospital.

CEO says hospital remains safe despite COVID cluster

MORE than 200 Ipswich Hospital staff remain in quarantine, despite 27 emergency department staff testing negative and returning to work this week.

West Moreton Health has quarantined all staff who were deemed close contacts to the five Ipswich Hospital nurses who have tested positive to COVID-19.

The nurses are all recovering from the virus and West Moreton Health CEO Kerrie Freeman said she was grateful they reported their symptoms early.

It is believed the hospital staff cases were linked to care for other COVID patients.

Those patients received treatment in a designated area of the hospital and were segregated from other patients, health authorities say.

It is not known exactly how the virus was transmitted.

"Our Public Health Unit has been swiftly carrying out extensive contact tracing, and all close contacts of positive cases, whether work colleagues or in the community, are required to complete 14 days' quarantine," Dr Freeman said.

Authorities say Ipswich Hospital remains safe for people to attend, despite the dramatic effect on staffing which has resulted in the temporary suspension of non-urgent Category 2 and 3 elective surgery.

"We understand that the community might be worried about coming to Ipswich Hospital and I can assure everyone that the hospital is providing safe care, Dr Freeman said.

"We have implemented rigorous infection control processes, and staff, patients and the small number of visitors permitted at this time are using personal protective equipment including masks."

Twenty-seven emergency department staff have tested negative and are now back at work, after being quarantined due to contact with a patient who presented for a different condition but later tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr Freeman said outpatient appointments, which can be provided via telehealth, were being scheduled, but many other community outpatient appointments throughout West Moreton Health were continuing safely.