Desperate search to find new COVID-19 patient contacts
AUTHORITIES are racing to track down scores of people who came into contact with a COVID-19 infected man who was exposed to the virus in Melbourne before flying to Brisbane to work on a Bundaberg strawberry farm.
The search comes after it was revealed this morning that there were no new recorded cases overnight in Queensland.
It is understood the man had not declared his exposure to the virus in paperwork upon flying to Brisbane and health authorities are now examining whether he had been notified that his Melbourne flatmate had tested positive to COVID-19 when he boarded the Brisbane-bound Virgin flight.
Authorities were yesterday working to track down about 50 people who came into contact with the man, aged in his 20s, and trace his movements.
It is understood the man did not declare that he had been exposed to the virus in a questionnaire upon arriving in Brisbane, but has told authorities he had not been notified at that stage.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said yesterday the man had been able to fly into Brisbane on Monday under exemptions to the COVID-19 border restrictions that allow seasonal workers to support Queensland agricultural interests.
He had stopped in Brisbane overnight, where he socialised with family and friends on Brisbane's southside, coming into contact with about 15 people.
The man then flew to Bundaberg and was transported to fruit picking accommodation, with four others staying at the same location testing negative to the virus today.
He then worked a shift on a Bundaberg strawberry farm, which has not been publicly identified by health authorities.
"We know he was infectious on the Monday when he flew into Brisbane and today we are five, six days later, so now is when people will start showing symptoms," Dr Young told media yesterday.
"We also know that you are infectious for up to 48 hours before you have symptoms so there will be people out in our communities in Bundaberg and Brisbane today who don't know that they have it, who could potentially be spreading the infection.
"So this is a time for heightened alertness for all our population in Brisbane and Bundaberg."
Dr Young said contact tracers were well resourced to track down every person who had been in contact with the man due to the low number of active cases.
She urged people not to wait for a call from contact tracers if they came down with symptoms of the virus.
The latest cases brings to four the number of active COVID-19 cases in Queensland, with two people in hospital; one in intensive care.
Bundaberg state MP David Batt said Bundaberg farms depended on seasonal workers as the "salad bowl of Queensland" with about 3000 backpackers living in the area at any one time.
Some backpacker hostels have imposed strict coronavirus measures to try limit the risk, according to one local farm worker.
Originally published as Desperate search to find new COVID-19 patient contacts