Australia

Fingers crossed over Brisbane lockdown

Greater Brisbane’s lockdown could still end before the Easter holidays after just two new coronavirus cases emerged in the community.

The two additional cases were reported after 33,408 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday.

One is a nurse from Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, who had received her first vaccine dose, and the other is her housemate.

Another case of community transmission linked to the Brisbane clusters was also reported in the NSW town of Byron Bay on Wednesday.

The two new cases in Queensland take the total number of community infections to 17, along with two COVID-19 patients who initially spread the virus to hospital workers.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says a decision on extending the Greater Brisbane lockdown, which is due to end at 5pm on Thursday, will be made in the next 24 hours.

“The fact we do not have any unlinked community transmission in the south-east or in our state is absolutely encouraging,” she told reporters.

“Fingers crossed all will be looking good for Easter.

“If we see very good testing rates across Queensland and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive.”

Infectious COVID-19 cases have visited venues in Greater Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Gladstone, Toowoomba, Hervey Bay and Gin Gin.

Most cases are now in Brisbane hospitals or in isolation, but there are two patients on the Gold Coast, and two in Hervey Bay and Toowoomba, respectively.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said 1700 people were self-quarantining and getting tested after possibly coming into contact with known cases.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath is also self-isolating after she woke up with a sore throat and flu-like symptoms and decided to get a COVID-19 test.

She lives in the Moreton Bay region, where a number of exposure sites are located.

“I immediately got a COVID test this morning and am isolating until I get a negative result,” Ms D’Ath posted on Twitter.

“This is the right thing to do. Everyone is reminded to get a COVID test if you have any symptoms, regardless of how mild.”

The number of exposure sites in Queensland jumped to 81 overnight with the NSW government issuing alerts for a number of venues in Byron Bay and Ballina.

Brisbane’s PA Hospital, where two nurses and a doctor have now tested positive, was locked down even harder on Tuesday night.

Queensland’s second-largest hospital started turning away all but the most critical patients on Wednesday morning.

Like all Brisbane hospitals, it had been turning away visitors since Friday.

The hospital is testing all staff who’ve worked in the COVID-19 ward since March 19, with all known virus cases linked to three staff who tested positive there.

Dr Young the PA Hospital had made the right call to lock down the facility.

“We just had transmission in a hospital resulting in two separate clusters, and those two clusters have happened at the same time, which is a big risk to manage to,” she said.

“So you would have seen that with the first cluster, I didn’t advise the premier that we needed to lock down, but as soon as we had a second cluster the numbers were just becoming too big to manage.”

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