Race to find patient X: Hunt for COVID-19 missing link

 

The hunt is on to find the missing link between a 26-year-old man contagious with COVID and the doctor who caught the disease while treating overseas arrivals.

Genomic testing has confirmed that Queensland's latest locally acquired COVID-19 case is linked to the previous case announced on March 12.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said it is likely there was one unidentified intermediary who had passed the virus on to the positive case revealed yesterday, who has the highly virulent B117 or UK variant.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young. Picture: Image/Josh Woning
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young. Picture: Image/Josh Woning

"We will know more in the next 24 hours, but in the meantime, those identified as visiting the locations in today's Public Health Alert should immediately get tested and isolate until you receive your results," Dr Young said in a statement last night.

"Additionally, anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted by the Public Health Unit and required to quarantine. The detail from the genomic testing is getting faster and better - we know that the gentleman who tested positive on late Thursday night was highly contagious.

"We therefore cannot afford to be complacent - if you have any COVID symptoms at all, please come forward and get tested."

 

 

Queensland Health last night updated its contact tracing advice for Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre, Carindale and Mamma's Italian Restaurant at Redcliffe.

Anyone who was in any part of Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre between 12pm and 2.16pm on Saturday, March 20 should immediately get tested and isolate until they receive their result.

Anyone who visited Mamma's Italian Restaurant at Redcliffe on March 21 between 12.40pm to 3.10pm will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Public health units will directly contact those people dining at that time.

Mamma's Italian Restaurant at Redcliffe. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Mamma's Italian Restaurant at Redcliffe. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Extra testing clinics in Pine Rivers, Eight Mile Plains and Wynnum will open tomorrow.

There have also been viral fragments found in sewage at Rockhampton North and Luggage Point in Brisbane.

The 26-year-old man from Stafford in Brisbane's north tested positive on Thursday night after spending three days in the community while unknowingly infectious, visiting popular venues across the region including a Bunnings and a major shopping centre.

As Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there was no cause for alarm, Queenslanders have been urged to stop shaking hands and maintain social distancing amid fears that people are becoming too relaxed.

Aged care facilities, hospitals, disability accommodation services and prisons in the Brisbane City Council and Moreton Bay Regional Council areas closed to visitors at 12pm yesterday while people who are in crowded venues have been urged to wear masks.

"People are not social distancing," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Everyone is doing handshakes again.

"Now is not the time to break our social distancing."

 

The Premier said it was "absolutely critical" that people who were sick stayed home and got tested, particularly over the next few days.

The new case is Queensland's first case of community transmission in 13 days.

Dr Young said the Stafford man developed symptoms on Monday and became "reasonably unwell".

"He then stayed home, he had been out and about in his pre-symptomatic period as you would expect for a young man," she said. "He came forward yesterday (Thursday) and got tested."

Dr Young said the man was moved to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital on Thursday night but did not have severe symptoms.

He visited several areas right across Brisbane while unknowingly infectious including Carindale shopping centre, a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop at Everton Park and Mamma's Italian at Redcliffe.

Dr Young said Carindale was a high risk area.

Dr Young assured Queenslanders one week ago that there would be no need for a lockdown if the state treated COVID-19 outbreaks like it did during the recent Hotel Grand Chancellor cluster.

It came as new modelling by scientists showed partial lockdowns and social distancing were likely in the future.

Experts have discovered that, to curb future outbreaks of the virus, social distancing compliance of up to 40 per cent of the population will be necessary.

 

 

 

 

It comes as Queensland recorded seven new cases yesterday, including six that were detected in hotel quarantine and acquired from overseas.

Three of those relate to Papua New Guinea and one is from Ethiopia.

Vulnerable Queenslanders such as the elderly should reconsider not going to crowded locations over the next three days, however Dr Young said everyone should enjoy the outdoors.

"(Outside) we know is very low risk so let's go out and really enjoy the outdoors this weekend," she said.

About two thirds of the state's current 69 active cases have the PNG variant but Dr Young said it wasn't a variant of concern.

Ms Palaszczuk said the coming three days would be critical and urged anyone in the Brisbane City Council and Moreton Bay Regional Council areas to wear masks if they were out and about in crowded areas during this time.

"For example if you're going to a football match on the weekend wear your mask going in to the venue," she said. "If you're on a crowded train put a mask on.

"Now is not the time to break out social distancing, our good hand hygiene and the handshakes.

"We need to abide by these things if we're going to get through this."

Originally published as Race to find patient X: Hunt for COVID-19 missing link



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