More than 600 staff and travellers asked to quarantine, amid Brisbane cluster

Marco Green
January 14, 2021

It comes after six coronavirus cases at the Grand Chancellor hotel forced its shutdown on Wednesday, reigniting fears the virus had spread from the quarantine facility into the community.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton suggested those who had been quarantining for 14 days as a result of travelling through regional NSW would be able to end quarantine at 6:00pm, provided they had returned a negative test.

A veil of secrecy was yesterday drawn over the quarantine breach as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's press conference was cut short and follow up questions to Queensland Health were not answered, including whether the government was considering a further lockdown.

As speculation grows about how the outbreak occurred, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath called on people who had information about potential breaches of hotel quarantine protocols to come forward.

The DHSS said there were 29 active cases in the state and these included the people who were in hotel quarantine.

"What may appear to be brutal and uncaring and the like is very much done with the interests of the Victorian public at heart to ensure we don't have another situation where we have to lock down", Mr Donnellan said.

But health experts are at a loss to explain how the cleaner became infected or how a father and his adult daughter, recently returned from Lebanon, contracted the virus at the hotel, rather than while they were overseas.

'There's a specific window where we believe there is some chance that because of the infections that have already been recorded in hotel quarantine, between staff and residents, and it is that United Kingdom strain, without any other link, circumstances are very much based on each person's travel movements and when they were in hotel quarantine'.

Palaszczuk said she would propose moving quarantine from city hotels to remote camps at a national cabinet meeting on January 22.

"What we are dealing with here is something that we've never had to deal with before".

Anyone who completed mandatory hotel quarantine at Brisbane's Grand Chancellor Hotel on or after December 30 and have since arrived Victoria is ordered to self-isolate and immediately contact the state's coronavirus hotline.

Ms Palaszczuk said the investigation into how the hotel outbreak had occurred would include whether the United Kingdom variant of the virus had spread through the Grand Chancellor's air conditioning system.

"We are investigating the behaviour of a virus which is new".

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the outbreak had been tracked back to a man, in his 30s, who returned to Brisbane from the United Kingdom with his partner on December 30.

But Queensland-based Infectious disease physician and microbiologist Paul Griffin said he would be surprised if airconditioning was involved, given the Grand Chancellor had successfully been taking travellers into hotel quarantine since last September.

"How did this happen in the first place?" she said.

"There's no reason why we couldn't do something similar here in Queensland or if not around the country".

Ms Bates said the government had a responsibility to ensure the state's quarantine system was the best it could be.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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