May 15, 2020
No further cases of COVID-19 have been recorded at a Rockhampton aged care facility where a nurse tested positive to the disease during the past 24 hours.
The State-run North Rockhampton Nursing Centre – which has 115 residents and 180 staff – remains in lockdown following the confirmed case, the first in Central Queensland since March 30.
It provides residential aged care accommodation for high care and dementia residents, as well as offering interim care and residential transition care.
Queensland Health mobilised a rapid response team, comprising the local public health unit and experts from Brisbane, to manage the case and contain the virus.
Twenty-three residents and eight staff members at the facility tested negative on Friday.
Testing for the remaining residents and employees will continue over the next 24 hours.
Contact tracing is under way to determine where the nurse has been since May 3, when she is believed to have become infectious.
It is believed she contracted the virus in Brisbane before returning home to Rockhampton.
More than 70 people have already been identified as close contacts and quarantined.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said anyone in Rockhampton who had symptoms – no matter how mild – should visit the local fever clinic or their GP to get tested.
“It is likely this person has been infectious for almost two weeks and has been in the community on several occasions,” she said.
“It’s important that anyone who feels unwell – even slightly unwell – gets tested and self-isolate until they know the results. That will help us determine if there has been community transmission of COVID-19 and, if there has, act to stop the spread.”
The LNP has called for an independent inquiry into how the incident occurred.
“My thoughts are with the nurses, the staff, residents of the nursing centre and their families who are now confronting a very uncertain time,” Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said.
“Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, which is why this case in a State-run facility is very concerning.
“I am concerned that a nurse in a State Government-run aged care facility was symptomatic and contagious whilst looking after vulnerable residents.
“Either the proper procedures aren’t in place or they weren’t followed.
“Serious questions need answering and an independent inquiry is the best way to get to the bottom of what happened at this nursing home.”
* * *
Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said there had now been 7017 confirmed COVID-19 cases across Australia since the pandemic began.
About 20 new cases were being identified every day, including a small number of community-acquired cases.
“Just a reminder this virus is still there, at very low levels in the community, and I reiterate the Prime Minister’s message — as people start to go back to some normal activities and open up, please, please be careful,” he said.
As of Friday, there were 50 patients in hospitals across Australia, including 12 on ventilators.
Prof Murphy said the National Cabinet had also been briefed on the recently identified Paediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome – which manifests with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease – that has affected a small number of children in the UK and US.
He said it was still unknown what the association with COVID-19 virus was but he emphasised it was very rare and he did not expect to see cases in Australia because of the very low number of local infections in children.
* * *
NSW health authorities have issued an alert to people who travelled on Qantas Flight 537 from Brisbane to Sydney on May 12.
The flight landed about 4:05pm.
A male passenger tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Brisbane where he had served a mandatory hotel isolation period.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said authorities believed he may have been infectious on the flight.
Contact tracing is taking place to locate travellers who were seated in rows 31 to 35.
* * *
The Prime Minister and National Cabinet have agreed that all elective surgeries can restart, with a start date to be determined by individual States and Territories.
Prof Murphy said the decision would depend on the pressure on each State’s health system from COVID-19.
* * *
More day-use areas and walking tracks in National Parks and State Forests across Queensland will reopen this weekend, as part of the Stage 1 relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) and K’gari (Fraser Island) will reopen this weekend to beach driving, but only for day-use visitors with a valid Vehicle Access Permit. Camping and overnight accommodation is still not permitted.
* * *
Toowoomba Regional Council will reopen Cressbrook Dam to the public for recreational purposes from Saturday (May 16) after testing showed dam water met recognised safety standards.
Cr Tim McMahon said the campground would remain closed in line with the State Government’s Roadmap to Easing COVID-19 restrictions.
“Apart from the camping ground, residents can use other barbecue and public amenities during day opening hours at Cressbrook Dam.
“Users will still need to adhere to relevant Queensland Health requirements with a maximum gathering of 10 persons permitted under Stage 1 easing of restrictions.
“If residents are considering any recreational activities, social distancing measures must be maintained.”
* * *
Queensland will implement the first stage of easing restrictions from 11:59pm on Friday, May 15.
- Related article: The Slow Return To Normal
* * *
There have been a total of 1054 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Queensland since the pandemic began, with two new cases recorded during the past 24 hours.
One of these was an interstate case added to Queensland statistics, while the second was a nurse at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre.
Six patients are currently in hospital, including three in intensive care.
|Cairns and Hinterland||3||32||0||35|
|Torres and Cape||0||0||0||0|
* Queensland Health notes that changes may occur in the number of notifications reported from day-to-day. This is due to updates as new information becomes available or where discrepancies are detected through data quality assurance activities.