The hospital at the centre of an outbreak in Brisbane has been placed into lockdown for the second time in a month, as authorities scramble to stamp out two clusters.
Queensland Health on Tuesday evening confirmed the state’s second biggest hospital, the Princess Alexandra, has been placed into lockdown as a precaution.
“In light of the recent cases of COVID-19 that have been linked to ward 5D at Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital, a decision has been made for PA Hospital to go into lockdown today,” a spokesperson said.
“This additional lockdown will enable PA Hospital to put in place processes to manage impacts associated with these linked cases.”
The hospital will also continue to test all staff that have worked in the COVID-19 ward since 19 March.
The nearby Mater Mothers’ Hospital has also sent home staff – including midwives and doctors – after a recent visitor tested positive to the virus, according to the ABC.
The person visited the private maternity section as well as a nearby coffee shop popular with staff.
Another eight locally transmitted virus vases were announced on Tuesday, as the premier confirmed two distinct clusters were spreading in Queensland.
Both clusters are genomically linked to two Princess Alexandra Hospital staff who tested positive.
The first cluster is genomically linked to a PA Hospital doctor who tested positive on 12 March, which sent the hospital into lockdown for a number of days.
The cases linked to the doctor include two men in northern Brisbane, the brother of one of the men, and two colleagues of the other.
Genomic testing is underway to confirm another two cases are linked to that cluster.
The second cluster is linked to a PA Hospital nurse and her sister.
A close contact, and another five people who went to a hen’s party with the pair in Byron Bay, tested positive in Brisbane and the Gold Coast overnight.
The confirmation that two clusters are at work has triggered concern the Greater Brisbane lockdown may be expanded and extended.
“The steps that we took to go into this lockdown, as you can see by those numbers of community transmission today, were absolutely the right call,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters.
“We just have to take this day by day.”
More cases are expected, she said.
“The big question will be whether or not we see unlinked community transmission.”
There are now more than 60 potential virus exposure sites across Greater Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Gladstone, Hervey Bay and Gin Gin.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has left open the door to expand the lockdown to other regions.
“The message here is that people should be on alert, no matter where they are in Queensland,” Dr Young said.
About 2.5 million people in Greater Brisbane were ordered into a snap three-day lockdown on Monday afternoon.
Hundreds more people around the state who have visited Brisbane since 20 March are also under orders to stay at home and self-isolate.
Greater Brisbane has been declared a COVID-19 hotspot for the purpose of Commonwealth support.
Queensland has also mandated that healthcare workers must have received their first vaccine dose to be able to treat COVID-19 patients.
The state opposition supports the move but said it should have happened sooner, criticising the vaccine rollout as sluggish.
“It stands to reason that maybe if these staff had been vaccinated (or) not been treating COVID-positive cases, then we might not be in a lockdown,” shadow health minister Ros Bates said.
More than 41,000 frontline workers have received their first jab already, but only about 7,000 are fully vaccinated.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.