Hotel quarantine risk 'escalating' after 5 cases


Queensland's risk of COVID-19 escaping hotel quarantine 'is continuing to escalate', warns Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young.

Five new coronavirus cases were detected in Queensland today taking the state's active case total to 17.

All were acquired overseas and detected in hotel quarantine but Dr Young warned the system had to be managed 'very, very carefully'.

"The risk from overseas is continuing to escalate and we have to be very, very careful," she said.

"We've now seen breaches interstate and overseas and we have to manage it so we don't have any breaches.

"A lot of (positive cases) are coming from the UK but it just depends on the flights, we're seeing cases from all parts of the world - Europe, India, Pakistan."

Chief Health Officer Dr Janette Young warns the hotel quarantine risk is escalating. Picture: Josh Woning.
Chief Health Officer Dr Janette Young warns the hotel quarantine risk is escalating. Picture: Josh Woning.

She said anywhere overseas except New Zealand and some of the Pacific Islands 'are really high risk' for returning to Australia infected with COVID-19.

Dr Young explained entire hotels had now been turned into medi-hotels rather than just dedicating a couple of floors to quarantined overseas travellers - which was the process earlier in the pandemic.

She said the risk was too great which is why the majority of hotel quarantine was based in Brisbane rather than regionals towns, so those working in the medi-hotels had easy access to regular COVID testing.

It comes as staff at Queensland's fever clinics have been doubled in a bid to drastically reduce huge queues of southern travellers getting tested for COVID-19.

Dr Young said there would be no change to Queensland's border restrictions amid the ongoing outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne with low case numbers reported today.

But she warned authorities were on high alert.

Queenslanders have been urged to stay alert with what's unfolding in NSW if they are planning on travelling there.

Victoria today reported four new cases of coronavirus, one of them in hotel quarantine while NSW recorded seven new cases but all were acquired overseas and detected in NSW hotel quarantine.

However two locally acquired cases in NSW were diagnosed after the 8pm cut-off Sunday night to be part of the 24-hour period and will be included in Tuesday's numbers.

One is a man in his 40s who visited the BWS in Berala and the other a woman in her 40s who "has links" to the BWS and Woolworths in Berala, chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant confirmed.

The woman's case remains under investigation.

More than 22,000 tests were conducted in NSW in the 24 hours to 8pm Sunday but NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro urged people in Sydney to get tested, saying yesterday's number was "far too low".

On Monday thousands of Sydney residents across 63 suburbs were urged to monitor for symptoms after virus fragments were detected across two sewage plants.

Health authorities said findings could simply indicate the presence of known cases of COVID-19 that had been diagnosed in recent weeks but they were "concerned there could be other active cases in the local community in people who have not been tested and who might incorrectly assume their symptoms are just a cold".

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant urged people to be vigilant given the last cluster stemmed from an asymptomatic person.

"The person who entered the BWS … they had no symptoms and no reason at all to think they had a COVID infection," Dr Chant said.

Also in NSW, a wedding venue has been fined $5000 for allowing between 600 and 800 guests at a reception on Saturday night.

The wedding was held at Imperial Paradiso, a ritzy location on Spencer Street.

Current NSW Health restrictions allow for a maximum of 350 guests and that is under the one person per four square metre rule.

It comes as NSW's top health expert believes the struggle to contain COVID-19 will go on for "many years".

NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said that a vaccine rollout in Australia was a "long way off".

"I've indicated we're going to be tackling COVID or living with COVID for many years. COVID may well become a bit like flu, but that will occur once we have the tool which is an effective vaccine," Dr Chant said.

"So once we have effectively vaccinated the population, we then need to reset and readjust and recap our public health measures, but that's a long way off."

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