Queensland cluster could explode into HUNDREDS of cases in a few days

Why new Queensland coronavirus cluster could explode into HUNDREDS of cases in the next few days – as top expert says it’s far worse than the outbreak in New South Wales

  • Queensland recorded nine cases on Saturday – six linked to the detention centre
  • Expert warns hundreds of people could be infected with COVID-19 in few days 
  • Detention centre sent into lockdown on Thursday after worker tested positive

Fears are growing that Queensland’s new coronavirus cluster could infect hundreds of people in just a few days – making it worse than the New South Wales outbreak.

The state recorded nine cases on Saturday. Three were crew members on cargo ships and the other six were connected to Brisbane Youth Detention Centre at Wacol.   

Former Queensland Chief Health Officer Gerry FitzGerald warned that the detention centre cluster could worsen if it’s not brought under control 

Six of the new cases reported on Saturday were linked to the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre at Wacol (pictured)

Six of the new cases reported on Saturday were linked to the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre at Wacol (pictured)

Former Queensland Chief Health Officer Gerry FitzGerald warned that the detention centre cluster could worsen if it's not brought under control

Former Queensland Chief Health Officer Gerry FitzGerald warned that the detention centre cluster could worsen if it’s not brought under control

‘Seven people have been in contact with X number who have been in contact with X number of people … a number of those are likely to have been infected as well,’ he told Courier Mail

‘If you look at the cluster that arose out of the Crossroads Hotel in New South Wales it is now in the order of one hundred or so.’

He conceded that it was extremely worrying that the origin of the cluster remains unknown as contact tracers work to find a link.  

The detention centre was placed under lockdown on Thursday after a 77-year-old woman who worked there tested positive to COVID-19. 

None of the 127 residents have yet been diagnosed, while all 500 staff members are being tested. 

Of the six new cases linked to the detention centre, one of them had also worked at a disability accommodation service.

Griffith University medical doctor Dinesh Palipana, who has quadriplegia, said there was a significant risk for people with a disability of contracting COVID-19. 

Infectious disease expert Nigel McMillan said it was particularly worrying how many people could be walking around asymptomatic. 

‘Up to 80 per cent of people don’t even have symptoms so they wouldn’t even think to go and get tested,’ he said.

Contact tracers have been ‘working through the night’ to identify any close contacts or links related to the clusters. 

Nurse Shirley Molloy tests a patient for COVID-19 at a drive-through Fever Clinic in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, Australia, on April 30

Nurse Shirley Molloy tests a patient for COVID-19 at a drive-through Fever Clinic in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, Australia, on April 30

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a limit on indoor and outdoor gatherings without a COVID-safe plan in Queensland's southeast

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a limit on indoor and outdoor gatherings without a COVID-safe plan in Queensland’s southeast

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a limit on indoor and outdoor gatherings without a COVID-safe plan in Queensland’s southeast.

Gatherings at homes across Greater Brisbane will be limited to ten people for the foreseeable future while the rest of Queensland will be limited to 30. 

Ms Palaszczuk also announced aged care homes and disability accommodation services in the state’s southeast would go into immediate lockdown.

‘We’re concerned about this (detention centre) cluster because people have been out and about in the community,’ she said.

‘We do expect there could be even more cases linked to this cluster but we will not know those until further results come in.’

People arrive at a COVID-19 screening clinic at the Parklands Christian College in Logan, Queensland, Australia, 29 July 2020

People arrive at a COVID-19 screening clinic at the Parklands Christian College in Logan, Queensland, Australia, 29 July 2020

The new cases on Saturday mark Queensland’s first cases of locally-acquired transmission in more than a month.

The youth detention centre has cancelled new admissions, face-to-face visits and court appearances until the situation has been handled.  

Queensland chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young said the detention centre-linked cases were residents of Bundamba, Marsden, Carindale, North Ipswich and Forest Lake.

‘Because in Queensland we jump on things after seven cases, I sincerely believe we’ll get on top of it,’ she said.

There are also fears the new cluster is genomically linked to the outbreak which was triggered by two woman who allegedly lied about visiting Melbourne when returning to Queensland. 

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