Greater Brisbane residents will have to wait until Thursday to learn whether a city-wide lockdown can be lifted for the Easter weekend, after “encouraging” results from a record number of coronavirus tests.
On Tuesday, two new cases were detected within the Brisbane community. One was a vaccinated nurse from the Princess Alexandra hospital’s infectious diseases ward, which was last night evacuated as a precaution. The entire hospital was placed in lockdown.
The second new case lives in the same property as the nurse.
Authorities say they consider the new cases part of a cluster of cases that originated with a traveller who returned from India.
However, the infection of the nurse appears to be the third separate occasion where a healthcare worker has contracted the virus from the PA hospital’s coronavirus ward – Ward 5D – prompting additional concern about measures in place to protect workers and prevent the virus’ spread into the community.
Queensland chief health officer, Jeannette Young, said the nurse had not come into direct contact with the male patient from India, who genomic testing suggests is the source of the infection.
“We know it has got from that patient to her, but she wasn’t directly caring for that patient,” Young said.
“Which means there is most likely some environmental contamination or some aerosolisation of the virus. That’s why that ward has been closed, and no one is going in or out. There’s being a very thorough clean done at that ward.”
On Tuesday, the Queensland doctors’ union called for an investigation into the infections of healthcare workers.
Young said the nurse had her first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on 19 March but likely did not have full immunity when she contracted the infection.
The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, described the record number of coronavirus tests – about 33,000 on Tuesday – and the fact only two new cases were detected as encouraging news.
Authorities will not make a decision on whether to extend the three-day lockdown until Thursday morning. Any extension will mean restrictions continue into the Easter weekend.
“What I say to the public is this is very encouraging and we’ll be providing you with an update again tomorrow at 9am, and fingered crossed, all will be looking good for Easter,” Palaszczuk said.
“But like I said, it depends on the testing rates again. So 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.”