70 quarantined, health service to probe actions of nurse
QUEENSLAND Health has ordered 70 CQ residents into immediate quarantine today after they were identified as 'close contacts' of a Rockhampton nurse who tested positive to COVID-19 on Thursday evening.
North Rockhampton Nursing Centre, where the nurse worked for the past 12 days, remains in lockdown following the confirmed case, the first in Central Queensland since 30 March.
Queensland Health has mobilised a rapid response team, comprising the local public health unit and experts from Brisbane, to manage the case and contain the virus.
Twenty-three residents and eight staff members at the Queensland Government-run facility have tested negative so far today.
Testing for the remaining 92 residents and 172 employees will continue over the next 24 hours.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said Queensland Health had comprehensive plans in place to contain the virus.
"The health, wellbeing and safety of residents is our highest priority," Dr Young said.
"We are isolating and testing residents and staff, using our GeneXpert rapid testing equipment. That testing can return results within an hour but there's limited capacity in Queensland and Australia.
"These samples will be run through our normal PCR testing regimen as a precautionary measure.
"Circumstances like these warrant the use of such highly specialised resources. The local health service has confirmed it has adequate PPE to respond to the testing required.
"We're communicating with residents, families and carers, and staff. This is an early, robust and co-ordinated response.
"Coronavirus inside a residential aged care facility can have significant consequences and we are taking this very seriously."
Hygiene measures and cleaning have been increased at the facility.
Contact tracing is underway to determine where the nurse has been since 3 May, when she is believed to have become infectious.
Dr Young urged anyone in Rockhampton who had symptoms - no matter how mild - to visit the local fever clinic or their GP to get tested.
"It is likely this person has been infectious for almost two weeks and has been in the community on several occasions," she said.
"It's important that anyone who feels unwell - even slightly unwell - gets tested and self-isolate until they know the results. That will help us determine if there has been community transmission of COVID-19 and, if there has, act to stop the spread."
Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service chief executive Steve Williamson said the nurse's condition was being monitored.
He said the circumstances prior to her diagnosis were being investigated.
"The nurse was onsite after being symptomatic and after being sent for testing," Mr Williamson said.
"That's outside the direction we've set for our staff and we will look into that further - in detail - but our focus currently is 100 per cent on ensuring safety in the facility."
North Rockhampton Nursing Home provides residential aged care accommodation for general high care residents, residents experiencing dementia, and also offers interim care and residential transition care.
It is currently home to about 115 residents across three wings and has 180 staff.
Rockhampton Hospital's fever clinic will operate across the weekend and a second fever clinic at CQU Rockhampton campus has been opened.
People should call ahead to book on 4920 5777.