Health authorities are still trying to determine if a Townsville woman had coronavirus while travelling through parts of Queensland, as residents in the north of the state are criticised for throwing social distancing “out the window”.
There has been one new case of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a traveller who was in hotel quarantine in Cairns after returning from Uganda, via Dubai and Papua New Guinea.
Authorities hold little concern of community spread from the new case as they focus on contact tracing and increased testing in Cairns and Townsville after it was revealed yesterday that a Townsville woman was diagnosed with the virus.
The woman, aged in her 30s, had travelled to several health clinics in Townsville in the past two weeks, before flying to Cairns and Brisbane, then to Victoria on October 7.
Health Minister Steven Miles said health authorities were not any closer to finding where she contracted the virus but still believed she “most likely” got it in Melbourne.
However, there has also been recent positive sewerage samples found in Townsville, Cairns and Airlie Beach.
“It’s highly unlikely that we will see cases out of this but as I say we are treating it with the utmost of caution,” he said.
“It will take some time for the genetic sequencing of both the wastewater and her blood sample, so that may give us a sense.
“Where there is any room for doubt, we have taken the most cautious approach and that’s exactly what we are doing here.
“The cost of doing a bit of extra testing and some contact tracing compared to the cost of an outbreak and having to lockdown, well you just can’t compared the two.”
About 242 people were tested in Townsville yesterday and 179 in Cairns, which Mr Miles said was a “very good” result and “a great increase”.
‘It will spread like wildfire’
Chair of the Northern Australia Primary Health Limited and Townsville general practitioner, Dr Michael Clements, said the traces and case should be a wake-up call.
“We should use it not as a fear mongering step but as a reminder that we are still vulnerable,” Dr Clements said.
“Unfortunately, what we have seen in north Queensland and in large parts of Queensland is a complacency.
“We haven’t had any cases here for so long now that we’ve seen testing rates drop.
“We’ve seen social distancing almost thrown out the window.
“Our biggest danger is complacency and thinking that we’ve beaten it.
“If we carry on as if it’s not going to happen to us it’ll spread like wildfire and we will be locked off to the rest of the world.”
New cases not of ‘great concern’
There is still two active cases in the state, after more than 5000 tests in the past 24 hours.
The new case overnight had been in contact with 15 others on their arriving flight, who were already in hotel quarantine.
“There is no cause for great concern from this case,” Mr Miles said.
“We will continue to see new cases throughout this pandemic, that’s unavoidable as there will continue to be Australians returning.”
Woman hiding in border breach
Meanwhile, police found a Victorian woman hiding in the cabin of a truck after intercepting a prime mover on Dumaresq Crossing Road at Texas around 11.40am yesterday.
A 51-year-old Victorian woman was located hiding behind the driver’s seat.
The woman and the 61-year-old male driver were each issued a $4003 infringement for failing to comply with the Queensland Border Direction and directed to leave the state.
More than 180 heavy vehicles were intercepted for compliance checks across three sites – the Cunningham Highway at Goondiwindi, Leichardt Highway at Goondiwindi and New England Highway at Wyberba.
The traffic operation followed an investigation in Mackay last week where 15 carnival operators from Victoria were fined $4003 after travelling around Queensland in breach of their freight pass directions.