Queensland health authorities are scrambling to find the mystery source of a new case of the deadly UK strain of coronavirus which has been found in Brisbane.
A 26-year-old landscaper from Stafford in the city’s north tested positive to Covid on Thursday night, sparking exposure alerts for venues including a busy Westfield shopping centre.
With the man having no link to hotel quarantine, officials are baffled as the how the landscaper caught the B117 variant – better known as the UK strain – with it being linked to a previous cluster announced on March 12 through an unknown person.
Shinobi Ramen Noodle shop at Westfield shopping centre, Carindale, Brisbane, is one of the new covid hotspots from 12 noon to 2.16pm on March 20
Genomic sequencing has linked the case to the Princess Alexandra hospital cluster which was discovered earlier this month but officials do not know how the landscaper contracted the virus.
Before his positive test the man visited venues across Brisbane over a number of days since last Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday he is confident in Queensland’s ‘strong’ contact tracing system.
Queensland Health updated its advice to urgently call for anyone who was in any part of Westfield Carindale shopping centre from 12 noon to 2.16pm on Saturday, March 20, to immediately isolate and get tested.
Also anyone who went to Mamma’s Italian Restaurant, Redcliffe, on March 21 from 12.40pm to 3.10pm should immediately quarantine for 14 days and get tested.
Hotspots added to the alert list on Friday evening include Shinobi Ramen Noodle Shop and Kmart at Westfield Shopping Centre Carindale on Saturday March 20 from 12 noon to 2.16pm
While at Westfield Carindale the man also visited Fresh Sensations, Harris Scarfe and Robins Kitchen and Go Vita.
KFC’s drive-thru at Everton Park has also been added to the list of low-risk venues for anybody there on Monday March 22 for the five minutes from 7.55pm to 8pm.
The Queensland outbreak has prompted Western Australia to hand down a snap quarantine rules for potentially exposed travellers to isolate and get tested.
The KFC drive-thru at Everton Park, Brisbane has been put on the hotspot list for only 5 minutes from 7.55pm to 8pm on March 22
The restrictions apply to anyone in Queensland since March 20 who was at the designated hotspots during the alert times.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook said anyone entering WA from Friday who had been at the hotspots would need to quarantine.
The infected man – who has no connection to Queensland’s hotel quarantine program and has not been overseas – has been taken to Royal Brisbane Hospital for treatment.
Queensland Health said the latest locally acquired Covid case is linked to the previous cluster announced on March 12.
Kmart in Carindale Westfield, Brisbane, has been added to the list of hotspots as WA imposes new restrictions of immediate quarantine for any traveller exposed during the alert times
On Friday afternoon, Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young said it was likely there was an unidentified intermediary who had passed the virus on to the man.
‘We will know more in the next 24 hours, but in the meantime, those identified as visiting the locations in today’s Public Health Alert should immediately get tested and isolate until you receive your results,’ she said.
Dr Young said the Public Health Unit will reach out to close contacts, who will be required to quarantine.
‘The detail from the genomic testing is getting faster and better – we know that the gentleman who tested positive on late Thursday night was highly contagious,’ she said.
‘We therefore cannot afford to be complacent – if you have any Covid symptoms at all, please come forward and get tested.’
The infection prompted Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to close aged care facilities, hospitals and prisons to visitors in the Brisbane City and Moreton Bay council areas from 12pm on Friday.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has closed aged care centres, hospitals and prisons to visitors in Brisbane following a case of coronavirus outside hotel quarantine (pictured, testing in February)
Crowds on an escalator at Carindale Shopping Centre in Brisbane – one of the venues in the city listed as potential exposure sites to Covid-19
QUEENSLAND VENUES ON ALERT
Anyone who has been to the following venues in the specified time frames must get tested regardless of whether they have symptoms and isolate immediately until they receive a negative result:
March 20, 12 noon to 2.16pm: every part of Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre at the alert time is now HIGH RISK
March 20, 12 noon to 2.16pm: Westfield Carindale. Shops include: Shinobi Ramen Noodle Shop, Fresh Sensations, Go Vita, Robins kitchen, Harris Scarfe and Kmart
March 20, 2.45pm to 3.45pm: Market Organics (store only), Newmarket
March 20, 8pm: Baskin and Robbins, Everton Park
March 21, 10.30am to 10.46am: Genki Market, Alderley
March 21, 12.40pm to 3.10pm: Mamma’s Italian Restaurant, Redcliffe – HIGH RISK
March 22, 12.20 to 12.25pm: Guzman and Gomez, Stafford
March 22, 12.40 to 12.50pm: Bunnings, Stafford
March 25, 8.30am to 8.45am: Aldi, Stafford
March 25, 11.15am to 11.40am: Nundah Respiratory Clinic, Nundah
Low risk venues:
March 20, 12 noon to 2.16pm: Other parts of Westfield Carindale centre
March 21, 9.50am to 10.20am: Gasworks Plaza, Newstead
March 22, 7.55pm to 8pm: KFC drive-thru, Everton Park
An Aldi supermarket in Stafford, north Brisbane visited by the city’s positive Covid-19 case
The 26-year-old returned two positive results after being tested for the virus earlier on Thursday.
‘We will be issuing health alerts throughout the day and I urge the media to really put out these venues,’ she said.
‘We absolutely want people, especially over the next two – three days, to come forward and get tested if you are feeling unwell and you have symptoms.’
Dr Young said the man developed symptoms on Monday.
‘He became reasonably unwell, and stayed home,’ she said.
She raised the possibility the case was connected to an outbreak involving two hotel quarantine guests and a doctor at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital earlier this month.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a 26-year-old man had tested positive to Covid-19
That outbreak also led to a ban on visitors to hospitals in the greater Brisbane area and an order for those who visited high-risk locations to self-isolate.
Brisbane previously entered a hard three-day lockdown in January after a Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner contracted the UK strain of the virus.
‘I would hope we don’t need to have more restrictions, but it just depends what unfolds over the next 24-48 hours,’ Dr Young said on Friday.
The state’s health authorities have also issued an urgent alert for 96 suburbs across Brisbane after coronavirus fragments were detected in sewage water.
Residents line up outside a 24-hour COVID testing clinic south of Brisbane during the city’s three-day lockdown in January. Genomic testing is underway to uncover how a 26-year-old caught the virus in the latest outbreak
Covid-19 traces were also found in the Luggage Point treatment plant in the city’s east.
Dr Young urged anyone experiencing symptoms of the virus – however mild – to come forward for a test.
‘It is very important people with symptoms come forward right away and get tested – we can’t be complacent, we’re still in this pandemic,’ she said.
The landscaper while infectious had visited venues across Brisbane including a Bunnings in his own suburb of Stafford (pictured)
‘It is critical we detect any cases that we may not be aware of as quickly as possible through our testing system, to contain any potential spread.
‘We are concerned by the new variants that are emerging overseas that are more contagious than previous variants we have seen in Queensland.
‘It’s also possible that this detection relates to previous COVID-19 cases that can shed viral fragments for a couple of months after they are no longer infectious.’
THE 96 BRISBANE SUBURBS ON HIGH ALERT AFTER CORONAVIRUS FOUND IN SEWAGE
• Bowen Hills
• Brisbane Airport
• Brisbane City
• Camp Hill
• Cannon Hill
• Chermside West
• Dutton Park
• Eagle Farm
• East Brisbane
• Enoggera Reservoir
• Everton Park
• Ferny Grove
• Fortitude Valley
• Gordon Park
• Highgate Hill
• Holland Park
• Holland Park West
• Kangaroo Point
• Kelvin Grove
• Mount Coot-tha
• Mount Gravatt
• Mount Gravatt East
• New Farm
• Norman Park
• Nudgee Beach
• Petrie Terrace
• Port Of Brisbane
• Red Hill
• Seven Hills
• South Brisbane
• Spring Hill
• St Lucia
• Stafford Heights
• Stones Corner
• The Gap
• Upper Kedron
• Wavell Heights
• West End
• Wynnum West