The premier ordered 2.5million Greater Brisbane residents to stay at home and businesses to close down for three days after a quarantine hotel cleaner caught the highly contagious UK strain of Covid-19 from a returned traveller.
Chief Health officer Dr Jeanette Young said the decision was taken to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed even though there is not a single person in Australia in intensive care with Covid.
Residents in Brisbane rushed to the shops to stock up ahead of a weekend in lock down
LNP Senator Gerard Rennick was left furious by the dramatic decision
Queensland tourism businesses were surprised by the drastic move on Friday morning but are hopeful the lockdown will be short.
‘We are just all completely shell-shocked,’ said Daniel Gschwind, Chief Executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.
Mr Gschwind told Daily Mail Australia the situation is devastating for tourism companies who are struggling to stay afloat with state borders closed and overseas visitors expected to be locked out until at least October.
‘The entire nation is in a state of uncertainty, and certainly from a consumer point of view in relation to tourism it’s not a great back-drop for anyone to make a booking.
‘There will be very few people willing to put their money into a booking anywhere, I suspect,’ he said.
Residents line up outside a 24-hour COVID testing clinic south of Brisbane on Friday
But despite his shock, Mr Gschwind said he backed the lockdown due to the uncertainty over the new strain which is up to 70 per cent more infectious.
‘If we can contain it in these three days then it may be worth it,’ he said.
‘There’s no point arguing the toss for us. The response is supported in the population here. It is dramatic but maybe that’s what it takes.’
Mr Gschwind said he had calls from the deputy premier, the treasurer and the tourism minister who told him him they hoped the lockdown would only last three days.
‘They’re certainly hopeful but the clear message was we really can’t tell yet and it very much depends on what the testing and tracing reveals over the next three days,’ he said.
LNP Senator Gerard Rennick was left furious by the dramatic decision.
Brisbane residents lined up for Woolworths ahead of lockdown kicking in at 6pm
He Tweeted: ‘The Premier has lost the plot. One case and she locks down Brisbane for three days. How pathetic. NSW has successfully managed their latest Covid outbreak with many more cases and no deaths. Typical Labor-command and control at every opportunity.’
However, Scott Morrison said the thee-day lockdown was a ‘wise decision’ even though there were no new cases recorded on Friday.
The AHPPC had recommended the shut down due to the infectiousness of the new strain.
Australian Medical Association backs lockdown in statement
‘The appearance of the new UK strain of COVID-19 in Queensland shows the need to act quickly to head off any further outbreaks.
‘This UK strain appears to be a greater risk of breaking out of hotel quarantine, and then spreading quickly to outrun and overwhelm our last lines of defence – physical distancing and testing and tracing.
‘It must be stopped before it enters the community, and we commend the Queensland Government for taking strong, fast action, and National Cabinet for backing those actions.
‘The three-day lockdown across Brisbane and other south-east Queensland regions may not be popular. Nor may the stricter quarantine rules, and the testing of passengers before they board a plane to Australia.
‘But we have seen in the past that decisive action, taken early, is the best way to stop this wicked enemy.’
AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid
The lockdown applies to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands.
‘Think of it as a long weekend at home. We need to do this. I’ve accepted the strong advice from Dr Young,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
The mutated strain is believed to be up to 70 per cent more infectious than normal Covid-19.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Friday residents will also have to wear face masks as part of the new measures
There are 2.5 million people living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands
‘Please, everybody, let’s be in this together, let’s stay at home, look at it as a long weekend at home with your family and friends,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
‘It will be tough on everyone for these three days. I think everybody in Queensland, especially the Greater Brisbane area, knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain.
‘We do not want to see that happening here in our great state and that is why we are taking those strong actions today.’
Queensland reported no new locally transmitted cases and nine new cases in hotel quarantine on Friday.
Aged care homes across greater Brisbane were also sent into lockdown with visitors barred from visiting facilities in the Metro North, Metro South and West Morton heath regions.
Hospitals, prisons and disability accommodation in the same areas are also banned from accepting visitors.
The new strain causing a sharp rise in cases in England and prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to order a national lockdown until at least mid-February.
The UK reported more than 60,000 new confirmed cases in 24 hours for the second day in a row on Wednesday.
Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said health authorities were acting fast to trace down anyone who had come into contact with the cleaner.
The infected cleaner, a woman in her 20s who lives in Algester, had been working at the Hotel Grand Chancellor at Spring Hill (pictured), with her most recent shift on January 2
‘We need to find every single case now,’ Dr Young said.
‘We need to find every person who might have had contact with that lady now, find them find them, and get them into quarantine. That’s what we’ve got to do over the next three days.’
The hotel cleaner’s infection ends almost four months of zero locally acquired cases in Queensland.
‘Queensland has done a great job containing this virus in our community for 113 days. Sadly, today we do have a locally acquired case,’ Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said on Thursday morning.
The positive case, a woman in her 20s, was infectious from January 2 before testing positive after showing symptoms on Wednesday.
The cleaner visited the Calamvale North Woolworths (pictured) between 11am and noon on January 3 while infected
Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is urged to get tested immediately.
Contact tracers are tracking the movements of the cleaner, who worked at the hotel Grand Chancellor on January 2.
‘This cleaner did everything right,’ Ms Palaszczuk said earlier on Thursday.
‘She developed the symptoms Wednesday and was tested yesterday.
‘We need to ensure that there is no community spread. Once again, please, if you’re sick, get tested.’
The woman from Algester travelled on the public rail network to and from Brisbane’s inner city and southside.
Health authorities say she visited several locations while potentially infectious.
The woman travelled on a train from Altandi station to Roma Street station at 7am on January 2, then returned on the 4pm service the same day.
She also visited Woolworths at the Calamvale Central Shopping Centre from 11am to 12pm on Sunday 3 January.
She was also at Coles in Sunnybank Hills for 30 minutes from 7.30am on Tuesday 5 January.
The UK variant of Covid entered Queensland via a returned traveller at Brisbane Airport and has been identified in quarantine throughout the nation. This is the first time it has leaked from hotel quarantine
She was also a newsagent at Sunnybank Hills Shopping Town from 8am to 8.15am on the same day.
‘It’s important that people if they have any symptoms at all come forward and get tested,’ Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.
Residents of Algester, Sunnybank Hills and Calamvale who have symptoms of the infection are especially urged to get tested as soon as possible.
The Sunshine State now has 20 active COVID-19 cases and the new positive case comes from 15,000 tests over the previous 24-hour period.
Ms Palaszczuk has also announced travellers coming from Greater Sydney will not be allowed into Queensland until at least the end of January.
‘I know this is very disappointing for people during this time, but we are concerned still about Greater Sydney. We have a watching brief as well on Victoria,’ she said.
‘We’ll be having a national cabinet meeting tomorrow. I’ll get further updates there.’
The border closure will be reviewed at the end of the month.
There are 2.5 million residents living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands