The Queensland government is looking at having a dedicated coronavirus hospital in Brisbane, to reduce the risk of another outbreak in the state.
It comes as no new locally acquired cases were recorded, with 14, 011 tests carried out on Saturday.
“This is really good news, with all those close contacts and all of the testing we’ve done, that we’re seeing negative results coming back,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.
he said there were now 72 active cases in the state.
“We’ve had a number of discharges overnight and this brings us to a total of 1,489 cases that we have had in Queensland since the start of the transmission,” she said.
Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital became the unlikely source of two COVID-19 clusters in the state, which saw Greater Brisbane plunged into a three-day lockdown, and a state-wide mask mandate put in place.
“We’re looking at the moment at other options — of having a single area in one hospital where we can bring COVID patients instead of spreading them over different hospitals in Brisbane, we believe that will reduce the risk,” Ms D’Ath said on Sunday.
“We’re looking at RBWH [Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital] at the moment.”
Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett said there was “no one perfect solution to caring for cases”.
“It is about finding the best solution and in this instance it’s felt that caring for cases in one place may well be the best way to minimise that risk of transmission and have a dedicated workforce where you are very clear on how those cases are being managed,” she said.
“Dr Young will be able to tell you exactly what the details are, of where that might be and what it might look like, but suffice to say, that’s the option being explored at the moment.”
‘Something about the environment’
Ms D’Ath said it was believed there was “something about the environment” in ward 5D at the PA Hospital, which lead to the transmission from patients to a nurse and a doctor, the sources of the region’s two recent clusters.
“We know it’s not related to one individual and we know it’s not related to one individual in relation to how they have worn their PPE or any breaches by any one individual — because it’s happened on two occasions with two different health workers over different days,” she said.
“There is a view that this is about the environment and that is why the deep clean has occurred.”
Dr Bennett said a lot of work was being done at the PA hospital to finalise contact tracing around staff and visitors.
“There may well be a large proportion of the workforce, who are not able to work and so they’ll need to work through that,” she said.
“The priority being at the moment: just to finalise all that contact tracing and make sure as I said any anyone who should be tested is tested.”
Dr Bennett said overseas arrivals were adding to the bulk of cases, and work needed to be done with the Commonwealth government to manage international arrivals, and work out how many people the Queensland health system can care for.
“If you’d asked us weeks ago, we wouldn’t have thought we would have had so many active cases in the site at one time,” she said.
“Clearly the situation Papa New Guinea has contributed to that and we’ve seen many more cases reported per day from overseas travel needing to be cared for in hospital.”
‘Making great progress’
Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett said the new case in hotel quarantine had exposure in Pakistan.
“Along with the one case yesterday — the one locally acquired case that was already in quarantine — when they were diagnosed, which means they weren’t infectious in community, really highlights I think that we’re making great progress in this most recent outbreak,” she said.
“I think we can be confident that most of the contacts and people at risk that we’ve identified have been tested, but anybody in the community who has symptoms, please turn up and get a test.”
She said Queensland Health was still conducting a lot of wastewater testing in the community.
“Just be alert locally to any alerts in your area for wastewater tracing and public health units will let people in the community know of any concerns,” she said.