Australia

Queensland's top doctor 'worried' about 42 untraceable coronavirus cases

People are seen on the beach at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, Sunday, 3 May, 2020. Source: AAP

Queensland's Chief Health Officer says it's unlikely the state will ever beat coronavirus as 42 cases remain untraceable.

Queensland authorities feared thousands of coronavirus infections would emerge every day after a sick nurse continued to work at a nursing home in Rockhampton.

Queensland has recorded 1057 total cases of COVID-19, however, just 13 remain active.

Officials have been unable to determine how 42 of the cases, including the Rockhampton nurse, contracted the virus.

"They're the cases that worry me," Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Monday.

"This is why we cannot assume we have beaten this virus — we haven't.

"It is unlikely that we will, ever," she said.

Health Minister Stephen Miles has revealed the scale of the emergency authorities were braced for in North Rockhampton.

"We were preparing for thousands of positive cases every day," he told the ABC on Tuesday.

Two investigations are underway after the nurse kept showing up for work at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre while she had symptoms and before she received coronavirus test results.

Remarkably, none of the hundreds of residents and staff from the centre have returned positive tests since the drama emerged last week, nor has anyone else the nurse had contact with in the community.

But they face ongoing tests, every four days, until the two-week incubation period has passed.

"Certainly I thought that there would be positive results in that first batch," Mr Miles told ABC radio.

"But it is too soon to be relieved. We need to keep monitoring the situation."

The government sent a rapid response unit to the city when it learned about the situation.

A team of 26 nurses arrived from Brisbane on Monday, to ensure everyone linked to the sick nurse has appropriate care as they serve time in isolation and endure new rounds of tests.

Parliament will consider new legislation on Tuesday to strengthen the government's response to coronavirus.

That could include giving itself greater powers to force tests on anyone who spits or coughs on frontline responders.

The state's emergency health declaration, due to expire today, is also expected to be renewed for another 90 days.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch