Low contact with people and the limited time a female doctor spent in the community has prevented Greater Brisbane from being plunged into a snap lockdown.

The experienced doctor was treating two COVID-19 positive patients at the Princess Alexandra Hospital early on Wednesday after they were brought in from hotel quarantine.

The woman worked shifts at various locations within the hospital on Wednesday and Thursday before developing symptoms on Thursday evening and getting tested on Friday morning.

Authorities are now scrambling to understand how the unvaccinated doctor contracted the virus from her patients.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett and Health Minister Yvette D’Ath. Picture: Richard Walker
Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett and Health Minister Yvette D’Ath. Picture: Richard Walker

Deputy Chief Health Officer Sonya Bennett said she "wore appropriate PPE during the time she was with the patients"

"The hospital will look into that and identify any particular cause that may need an improvement," she said.

"There were no reported breaches in use of that PPE.

"What we know about this virus is that it's highly infectious… the most important thing we can do right now is just focus on preventing any further transmission."

Dr Bennett expects authorities to confirm by Sunday that the woman has the UK strain, but said she was doing "very well".

"She's concerned, like the rest of us - but she's come forward very quickly and she's been tested within two days after having seen the case so we can't ask for more," Dr Bennett said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the doctor's time in the community had "been very short and very limited in her contacts".

"That's also another positive for us," she said.


The limited contact and time the woman spent in the community has helped Brisbane avoid a snap lockdown similar to the one in January when a Hotel Grand Chancellor worker was in public with the UK strain.

"Unlike when we had the cleaner out in the public for five days, this doctor has not been out in the community for a long period of time," Ms Palaszczuk said.

It's believed the doctor developed very mild symptoms on Thursday evening and woke up on Friday with a sore throat and immediately got tested and self isolated.

"It's very rapid, it was about a 36-hour window. I believe we saw similar results with the cleaner with the UK variant with the Grand Chancellor case," Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said.

"The good news about this is because the symptoms came on so quickly and that the doctor came forward and got tested and quarantined herself until she got her results it means the risk to the community is far lower."

Director of Infectious Diseases at Mater Health Services Dr Paul Griffin said there could have been "disastrous consequences" if the doctor had taken days to recognise symptoms and get tested.

"She exercised fantastic judgment in getting tested really quickly, in the end it's very likely that this will be contained, it certainly looks to be the case thus far of course and a lot of that will be just how astute she was just in recognising symptoms, getting tested and getting that result quickly," Dr Griffin said.

"Every day of delay could have had disastrous consequences, so she's clearly done the right thing."

Dr Griffin said that while it was evidence that the UK variant was more contagious than previous versions of COVID-19, it was not yet established that symptoms come on more quickly than with any other variant.

"Anything with this virus, whether it be the incubation period, the severity, it's based on many factors, not just the strain," he said.

"In this case it may well relate to how much exposure the doctor had, how symptomatic or how much virus the source patients were shedding for example, so there's many factors in addition to the strain that dictate those things.

"But we have seen that potentially it may have a shorter symptom onset but that's certainly not something that's proven in bigger data yet."

Originally published as Mystery over how doctor contracted COVID-19



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