It’s still out there: super infectious virus strain remains a risk

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says the highly infectious UK variant of coronavirus it likely still present in Greater Brisbane.

Jan 12, 2021, updated Jan 12, 2021
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young is worried by the threat of the Delta variant. (Supplied).

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young is worried by the threat of the Delta variant. (Supplied).

No new cases of coronavirus have been detected in Brisbane but contact tracers are racing to find people who may have come into contact with two people who have the deadly strain.

The only new community case reported in the last five days is the partner of a quarantine hotel cleaner who tested positive, Young said.

The man initially tested negative but later tested positive for COVID-19.

Young urged anyone who visited two sites patronised by the man to get tested.

The venues are Bunnings Warehouse Acacia Ridge, between 2pm and 2.15pm on January 5, and Sunnybank Cellars, between 2.05pm and 2.15pm on January 6.

“The risk is low, but the risk is there so I really asked you to come forward,” she told reporters.

She also urged anyone who went to three venues visited by the hotel cleaner last week to come forward and get tested.

Those sites include Woolworths at Calamvale North, Coles Sunnybank Hills Shoppingtown and a Sunnybank Hills newsagent and were visited between January 3-5.

Young said even though there were just two cases of community infection it was too early for Greater Brisbane to return to normal.

“Just remember the incubation period is 14 days, and there is no evidence that the incubation period for this new variant is any different,” she said.

“We need to maintain all of the systems and processes we’ve all got in place as individuals to protect ourselves if this were to spread.”

Young said Greater Brisbane’s response to the lockdown was “absolutely brilliant” and rejected a suggestion by one medical expert that short lockdowns were not effective when managing a potential outbreak.

“We had to go and do something immediately, do it quickly and just get it managed,” she said.

“I think that three-day circuit-breaker — is what I am calling it — just sets the framework, and the response here in Greater Brisbane was absolutely brilliant.”

Masks are mandatory in supermarkets, shops, indoor markets, places of worship, libraries, gyms and indoor recreational facilities such as cinemas and art galleries until January 22.

They also must be worn on public transport, in taxis and rideshare vehicles and should be carried at all times.

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said while officers would enforce mask-wearing they may also offer people masks if they don’t have one.

“We will always give people the opportunity to comply with the directions,” he said.

“However, if people choose not to do that, there are strict penalties that apply and up to a $1300 fine could be imposed.”

“I do realise the absolute imposition, I understand the difficulties for businesses, but I think it has been enormously successful.

“We will now see the outcomes from it.”

Gatherings in private homes have been capped at 20 people and capacity is restricted at pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Young also said an ongoing investigation into how the hotel cleaner became infected may not be conclusive.

Police are trying to recreate the entire timeline to pinpoint any specific breach.

“It still may be that we will never get to the bottom of whatever actually happened because it could be something quite incidental to do with how infectious disease is,” Gollschewski said.

“But we will absolutely look at everything in the whole process.”

Young also said visitors from Victoria will only need to get tested on arrival and isolate if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Queensland today reported two cases of the virus in returned travellers – a father and daughter – from Lebanon who are in hotel quarantine.

The total number of active cases in Queensland is 28.

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