Queensland authorities now say a man who tested positive for coronavirus did not host a party while he was supposed to be isolating, drastically reducing the potential for a Brisbane-based cluster to expand.
Queensland Health said on Saturday that the 20-year-old from Strathpine had hosted 25 people while he was supposed to be isolating while awaiting his Covid test result. But it was announced on Sunday that only five people had seen the man during this period and “most” were his housemates.
The Queensland health minister, Yvette D’Ath, said it seemed the incorrect information had come from the man himself. She was informed about the error on Sunday morning.
“It is extremely unfortunate what has been discovered over the past 24 hours, that it wasn’t 25 people, but as I understand it this is the information that was received from this gentleman himself,” the health minister told reporters.
“Whether the health officials misunderstood what he said, I wasn’t there, I didn’t hear the conversation, but this is the information that they believe that he had provided them at the time.”
D’Ath said the situation involving early information later proving to be incorrect was “not unique to Queensland”. “We have seen this happen in a number of cases around the country when health officials have had to act based on the health advice they are given at the time.”
Queensland police deputy commissioner Steve Gollschewski confirmed the 20-year-old – who contracted the virus from a 26-year-old landscaper who tested positive on Thursday – was not believed to have committed any breaches of Covid restrictions.
There was one new local case detected in the state in the past 24 hours – the brother of the landscaper. The latest case, who had Covid previously and has now recovered, is thought to be one of the “missing links” to Brisbane’s mid-March cluster involving a hospital worker who contracted the UK variant.
Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said it was important for the state to remain vigilant, despite the significant reduction in people identified as close contacts.
“It’s far, far too early to relax because we know our two current cases have been out infectious in the community for the past week,” Young said.
Young said the brother of the landscaper was considered the likely “missing link”, connecting the current cluster to a doctor from the Princess Alexandra hospital who tested positive on 12 March. That case broke Queensland’s 59-day run without a community infection.
Young said the brother appeared to have fully recovered, according to serology testing, but more accurate PCR testing would confirm that.
Health authorities continue to update a “rapidly escalating” list of close contacts and venues attended by the positive cases, she said.
More than 20 exposure sites have been identified, and hospitals, aged care centres, prisons and disability service providers in Brisbane City and Moreton Bay council areas have been locked down.
Sporting competitions are also grappling with how to respond to the cluster, with Brisbane Lions players held in Melbourne following their AFL match in Geelong on Friday night.
Young said on Sunday she would encourage people to wear masks while attending sporting events in the state but the government was unlikely to mandate them.