Queensland authorities are again scrambling to contain a potential Covid outbreak in the Brisbane region, after detecting four new cases in people who were active in the community.
The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, told reporters on Tuesday there is “no need to panic”, but that health officials were particularly concerned about potential spread by a truck driver who has been staying in shared accommodation and was infectious in the community for eight days.
Some restrictions are being reintroduced, but for the moment Queensland will not go into lockdown. The NRL grand final is scheduled to take place this weekend, but Palaszczuk said there were no plans to move the game yet.
A guesthouse in South Brisbane where the man had been staying was placed under police guard on Tuesday morning.
Behind closed borders, Queensland remains particularly vulnerable to a potential Delta-variant outbreak. The state’s vaccination rates are well behind the rest of the country and there have been ongoing concerns about whether public hospitals are equipped for cases to spread.
At the same time, Palaszczuk has invested significant political capital in her hardline border policies designed to prevent the incursion of outbreaks from southern states.
The Queensland premier stresses that there's no plans to move the NRL grand final from Brisbane yet:
"Can I tell you when my phone rings I'll be updating people, but there is no concern at the moment."
— @MartySilk (@MartySilkHack) September 28, 2021
Mask rules will be reintroduced in the Brisbane and Moreton Bay area. Restrictions will also return to hospitals, aged care facilities and disability settings.
Private pathologists will be able to test people without an appointment.
“There’s no need to panic because Queenslanders have been doing the right thing, especially in the south-east,” Palaszczuk said.
The chief health officer, Jeannette Young, said the new cases were “separate, unrelated clusters” and that she had “a reasonable amount of concern” about the situation.
The most worrying case relates to a truck driver from New South Wales, who had stayed in two separate hotels in Spring Hill and a boarding house in South Brisbane.
“We are working through with the managers of those three facilities as to who else was in those accommodation venues while he was there and organising quarantine for all of those people,” Young said.
“We are looking at the [South Brisbane] facility … which is a guesthouse, we are looking at whether it might be best for those people to go into hotel quarantine because there are a lot of shared facilities, shared bathrooms and shared kitchen.
“We are continuing to work with [the truck driver] as to what other sites he has been at while infectious. But there have been a number that we have already been made aware of.
“At this stage I do not think a lockdown is warranted. That could change.”
Two of the new cases are a husband and wife from Eatons Hill in Brisbane’s north. The man is fully vaccinated and works in an aviation training facility. He was infectious in the community for three days, including attending a local childcare centre.
The fourth case is a woman who returned to Queensland from Dili, Timor Leste and tested negative three times in hotel Quarantine. She then tested positive five days after leaving. Young said it was unclear yet whether she was infected or the positive test was because of “late shedding”.
Two additional cases were detected in hotel quarantine.
Queensland police said they were also investigating the death of a man, in his 50s, in hotel quarantine. They said they could not provide any more detail about his death.