Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young

October 28, 2020

Health authorities fear there could be undetected COVID-19 cases in the Ipswich area after viral fragments were found in a wastewater treatment plant.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said on Wednesday routine testing had returned a positive result in sewage at the treatment plant at Carole Park.

The sample was taken on October 22 as part of a joint Queensland Health, University of Queensland and CSIRO pilot research program to test sewage for traces of COVID-19.

Sampling has been taking place at 18 locations across Queensland since mid-July.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the Ipswich result was of particular concern.

“We have had several weeks worth of negative results at this wastewater testing location since the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre cluster,” Dr Young said.

“There is a very real possibility this wastewater result is a sign of one or more undetected positive COVID-19 cases in the Ipswich community, and we are treating this seriously.”

Dr Young said she was calling on the Ipswich community to get tested immediately if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild.

The areas serviced by the Carole Park treatment plant include suburbs in and around parts of Ipswich, including Camira, Carole Park, Ellen Grove and Springfield.

“The discovery of these fragments is a reminder that we should not be complacent and need to keep in place good hygiene practices, maintain social distancing and get tested when sick,” Dr Young said.

“If there is a case in the community, it is critical we detect it through our testing mechanisms as quickly as possible to contain any potential spread and protect the great progress Queensland has made in recent months.

“But I also want to reassure the community, local drinking water is thoroughly treated through processes that are designed to remove or kill microorganisms before they reach your taps – so there is no risk when drinking water, showering, watering the garden, swimming or other activities.”

Queensland has recorded two new cases of COVID-19 – a 45-year-old male and a 49-year-old female – both overseas travellers in hotel quarantine in Cairns.

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