Australia

Brisbane hotel guests released from quarantine amid ‘promising’ signs COVID-19 outbreak is under control

At least 30 guests evacuated from Brisbane’s Hotel Grand Chancellor will spend their first night out of hotel quarantine as authorities grow confident they’ve quashed the outbreak.

No new cases have been detected since 129 guests were evacuated mid-week from the hotel when six people linked to the quarantine facility tested positive for a highly contagious COVID-19 variant. 

Those guests were told on Wednesday their 14-day quarantine period was being reset but the Queensland chief health officer revoked that order on Saturday.

The Grand Chancellor Hotel in Brisbane.

AAP

It meant all former Grand Chancellor guests who began hotel quarantine before 2 January were permitted to depart at 6pm on Saturday.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said the quarantine period was initially reset as she wasn’t sure when a cleaner at the centre of the outbreak had transmitted the virus.

“But we’ve now, through looking at what has happened to date, been able to clarify that the incident that led to the transmission of the virus happened on the 2nd (of January),” she told reporters.

Close contacts of the cleaner and her partner, who tested positive on 6 and 7 January  respectively, are expected to exit quarantine later this week.

Anyone who arrived at the Grand Chancellor after 2 January will still have to complete their 14 days of quarantine.

No new cases have been found outside the six already known.

“It means that, I believe, due to very quick work by a lot of people and by the people of Greater Brisbane, that there is every chance we have contained this cluster,” Dr Young said.

“It’s a little bit too early to say – we’ve still got to wait for that 14 days from when people had contact in the community before we can be certain – but it is looking promising.”

Meanwhile, Dr Young said a Cairns man who returned a positive result in the community months after arriving from Africa is now testing negative.

“We are still waiting on the serology test results to be absolutely convinced, but I really do believe that that is a historical case,” she said.

The only new case found in Queensland on Friday was that of a child in hotel quarantine whose parents have already tested positive.

The child and their parents recently flew in from South Africa and are now in hospital.

The state now has 29 active cases, including one person requiring intensive care.

Some 9,500 people were tested on Friday, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

“We want to see those numbers staying high,” she told reporters.

Australia Day celebrations have been scaled back in Brisbane in response to the hotel quarantine outbreak.

The nation’s largest citizenship ceremony will still be held at the showgrounds, but it is now restricted to new citizens and their guests.

The wider public will need to watch the evening fireworks from home.

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.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.

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