The Queensland government is shutting a quarantine hotel after six people staying there contracted the deadly UK strain of COVID-19.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says all six cases in the COVID-19 cluster stayed on the seventh floor of Brisbane’s Grand Chancellor Hotel while in quarantine. They are all in isolation.
All 129 people staying at the hotel are being moved to another hotel and tested before restarting their 14-day quarantine.
“Have a look what’s happening in the UK, what’s happening in Ireland, I mean, this, if it if it gets out of control it can have devastating consequences,” the premier told reporters.
“Right now we do know that this strain is coming into Australia from overseas arrivals, they’re not just coming into Queensland, it’s coming to other states as well, so I think everybody needs to be on a higher alert.”
Palaszczuk said 226 people who have worked at the hotel since December 30 will be isolated and tested.
Another 250 guests who have left the hotel since December 30 will be contacted and isolated while they’re tested.
The premier said the state government will pay the bill for the existing 129 guests, who must now restart the entire quarantine period in a new hotel.
“It’s going to be very tough on these particular guests that they now have to do an additional 14 days, however, it is necessary,” she said.
Palaszczuk called for a review of Australia’s quarantine system and its ability to keep out the UK strain of the virus.
She said the handling of arrivals and the suitability of quarantine hotels must be reassessed.
“What we are dealing with here is something that we’ve never had to deal with before,” the premier said.
“When we were dealing with the COVID, we knew what we were dealing with over a period of time, but now this is a new highly infectious strain. We do not want to see this getting out into the community.”
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said it was crucial to ensure everyone at the hotel quarantined for the next 14-days because there had been two separate cases of transmission there.
“If we find out what’s happened on that floor seven and that’s a reason for how it’s moved, transmitted, then that might change, but at this point in time it’s 14 days because I don’t know how that transmission has occurred,” she said.
The infected cleaner’s later movements in Brisbane triggered a three-day lockdown of the entire city and outlying areas over the weekend.
Young said 310 of the woman’s close contacts had been tested and only one, her partner, had COVID-19.
Another 96 close contacts are being tested or awaiting their results.
Authorities are looking for anyone else who may have come into contact with the cleaner or her partner at a number of venues.
Those venues include Woolworths at Calamvale North, Coles Sunnybank Hills Shoppingtown and a Sunnybank Hills newsagent between January 3-5.
People who were at Bunnings Warehouse Acacia on January 5 or Sunnybank Cellars on January 6 are also being sought.
Anyone who was at Capriccio’s Italian Pizza Restaurant in Maleny on January 6 or Purple Palette Cellars or Woolworths Maleny on January 7 are also urged to get tested.
The total number of active cases in Queensland is 26.
Marty Silk in Brisbane