Queensland authorities are furious after two women who spent eight days in the community despite having flu-like symptoms tested positive for COVID.
The women, who are both 19, live in Logan and Acacia Ridge in Brisbane’s south.
They returned to Queensland from Melbourne via Sydney, on Virgin flights VA863 and VA977, on July 21 – despite the state’s borders being closed to people from Victoria.
The pair did not go into quarantine in Brisbane, instead visiting shopping centres, restaurants and a church before getting tested for the virus this week.
Police have launched a criminal investigation into the incident, and the statements the women made on their border declarations.
An angry Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the investigation would be thorough.
“I’m absolutely furious that this has happened. That these two people have gone to Victoria, have come back and have given misleading information to authorities,” she said.
One of the women, a cleaner at Logan’s Parklands Christian College in the state’s south-east, returned a positive virus test late on Tuesday. Her friend tested positive on Wednesday.
“As a result of that, a lot of people are going to be inconvenienced,” Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Wednesday.
“And I do apologise to those people for what is now going to have to do occur.”
Dr Young described the situation as “very disappointing”.
Parklands Christian College was closed for cleaning on Wednesday. A fever clinic was being set up at the school – which has students from prep to year 12 – to test students, other staff and any concerned community members.
Dr Young said a string of shopping centres and restaurants in Brisbane’s south would also be forced to close temporarily for cleaning and contact tracing. Details of exactly which venues are affected will be released later on Wednesday.
Scores of the women’s contacts will be forced to isolate, and aged-care facilities in Brisbane’s Metro South Health region will re-enter lock down as the state tries to avoid an outbreak.
“We need people to tell the truth. That’s all I can say. This has been done to protect yourself as an individual, your family and the community,” Dr Young said.
“I’m very, very disappointed. I think it was reckless.”
“They’ve been out and about for eight days with symptoms.”
Queensland State Disaster Co-ordinator and Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said there would be an investigation into how the women returned from Victoria “including the way that they got through the border and the fact that they were in the community for eight days, when they should have been quarantined”.
“At this stage, the initial investigation is indicating that there were incorrect details on their declaration passes and we are still trying to examine all of those facts and obtain the border declaration passes,” he said.
“The investigation will look at whether that was deliberate or otherwise.”
The two positive cases are Queensland’s first outside returned travellers in hotel quarantine since May.
Queensland has six active COVID-19 cases.