Latest COVID-19 case in Qld: 'worked while sick'

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is addressing media after a southeast youth detention centre worker tested positive to COVID-19, taking the number of infections in the state to 1093.

The woman in her 70s, who lives in the Ipswich region, was an employee at the Youth Detention Centre in Wacol.

Ms Palaszczuk said the woman had continued to work while she was sick but said visitors had been banned at the detention centre since July 27.

There are now eight active cases in the state.

It is understood woman is 77 and works in in the operations centre as a supervisor at the Wacol Youth Detention Centre.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the Ipswich woman had worked about five shifts at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre while infectious.

She said the woman became unwell on August 10 and is now in hospital.

The centre has more than 500 staff and 130 youths - the youngest of whom is 13 - and all of the youths at the facility have been tested. Three were found to be sick but their tests came back negative.

The facility has been locked down and contact tracing around the woman is being carried out. Personal protective equipment has been issued to both staff and young people at the centre.

Court appearances and education involving young people at the centre have been cancelled on Thursday.

Authorities will also test to see if the strain is the same as the three Logan women who returned from a trip to Melbourne - two of whom tested positive for COVID-19 - and were fined $4000 for making false declarations on their border paperwork.

CCTV footage at the youth detention centre is being used to help contact tracers identify close contacts of the woman who tested positive.

Youth Justice director general Bob Gee asked people to "stay away" from the centre.

"We have plans in place of course for young people to be given support in terms of education and health... those processes are being put in place," he said.

"Last night all of the young people were locked in their rooms and they stayed there.

"Every young person is in their own room. I really doubt any would be doubled up.

"All movement within reason is tracked...her (the employee) contact was limited to only a very small number of young people."

It comes as Queensland Health has identified six close contacts of the case discovered on Wednesday of the novel coronavirus detected in a woman who visited a Brisbane cafe.

Health Minister Steven Miles said the woman, who tested positive to the virus after returning to Japan from Brisbane, via Sydney, had spent most of her time in Queensland looking after her sick father.

Asked how likely the woman caught the virus in Brisbane, Mr Miles said: "It's hard to tell exactly what's happened here, particularly given that she's now in Japan and not available to our public health staff to do further testing.

"If she was here we would do further testing. We're just being very, very cautious. We're treating it as though she could have been infectious. We are contacting people who could have been in contact with her.

"We've tested her father. The results of that test aren't back yet."

The Youth Detention Cetre at Wacol. Picture: Jamie Hanson
The Youth Detention Cetre at Wacol. Picture: Jamie Hanson

Queensland Heatlh issued a public health alert on Wednesday after the woman tested positive.

The alert has been issued for people who travelled on Virgin flight VA962 from Brisbane to Sydney on Monday and anyone who dined at The Jam Pantry cafe at Greenslopes, on Brisbane's southside, on Sunday.

The woman arrived in Sydney on July 18 and went into two-week, and returned negative tests. She then flew to Brisbane on August 1 to care for her sick father before returning to Sydney on Monday, flying to Japan on Tuesday and testing positive on her arrival.

"The woman arrived in Australia in mid-July and was in hotel quarantine in Sydney for two weeks prior to coming to Brisbane," Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.

"While in quarantine, she returned two negative test results. Because she quarantined in Sydney for two weeks and travelled straight to Brisbane from hotel quarantine, she could go about her normal life in Brisbane."

Health Minister Steven Miles, who is in Townsville, said Queensland Health was still collating coronavirus data for the last 24 hours and another update would happen later today.

Popular Brisbane cafe The Jam Pantry has closed and will carry out deep cleaning after the woman dined there at the weekend.

The mystery case has sent health authorities scrambling, putting six in quarantine and attempting to track down potentially dozens of infected cafe diners.

An urgent public health alert was raised on Wednesday, after Japanese authorities contacted Queensland Health to say an Australian woman had tested positive to the virus upon her return to Japan from Brisbane via Sydney.

The woman, who returned from Japan mid-July, spent two weeks in hotel quarantine in Sydney before travelling to Brisbane.

She tested negative to the virus twice while in quarantine, and was able to go about normal life upon her arrival into Brisbane for about two weeks. It's understood she returned home to visit a sick relative.

She returned to Japan on Monday, via Sydney, and though asymptomatic, has now tested positive to COVID-19.

Queensland Health are now urgently trying to contact anyone who dined at the Jam Pantry in Greenslopes on Sunday morning.

 

Anyone who attended the Jam Pantry on Sunday is being urged to get tested. Photo Steve Pohlner
Anyone who attended the Jam Pantry on Sunday is being urged to get tested. Photo Steve Pohlner

 

In a post on their Facebook page, the Jam Pantry team said they were working closely with Queensland Health, saying they would be back "soon".

"This time we really became famous overnight hahaaa We have to face new challenges again," the post said.

"The most important priority to us is the health and safety of our staff and patrons.

"With this in mind, we feel that the best thing moving forward is to temporarily close the cafe from Thursday to do a full disinfectant clean of the premises and all of us to do the test.

"We will also be ensuring that our staff are safe and healthy before returning back to work."

The staff said they were following all COVID-19 regulations and restrictions, and would continue to do so moving forward.

"Although this event is unfortunate, we are determined to do everything in our power to provide a safe and enjoyable dining experience for all our patients," the staff said.

"If you are concerned about potentially having been exposed to the COVID virus, or are showing any symptoms, we strongly encourage you to seek medical advice and follow the guidelines.

"We appreciate your understanding and support at this time. We are all in this together in these crazy times.

"We believe we can go (sic) through this. Thank you so much for everyone's concerned and ongoing support, we will be back soon."

A health alert for Virgin flight VA962 from Brisbane to Sydney has also been issued.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said contact tracing was underway and "appropriate action" had been taken at the relevant locations.

She said it appeared the woman had done all the right things.

There is a health alert for Virgin flight VA962. Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images
There is a health alert for Virgin flight VA962. Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images

"While in quarantine, she returned two negative test results," Dr Young said.

"Because she quarantined in Sydney and travelled straight to Brisbane from hotel quarantine, she could go about her normal life in Brisbane.

"However, on her arrival to Japan on August 18, she was asymptomatic but returned a positive COVID-19 result.

"While we are still determining where the virus may have been acquired, we are working with Japanese authorities to gather necessary information.

"We have been in touch with six close contacts in Brisbane identified by the woman. These people have been tested and are now in quarantine."

It is understood Japanese health authorities have been asked to confirm the positive result by doing a blood test.

It comes as one new case was confirmed in Queensland on Wednesday, a man in his 40s who was in hotel quarantine after returning from Papua New Guinea.

Any individuals who dined at the Jam Pantry on Sunday, August 16 between 9.45am to 11am will be contacted by the Public Health Unit.

 

 

Originally published as Scramble to trace mystery virus case