50,000 people warned of virus exposure

 

Around 50,000 people have been contacted by the Queensland Government and warned they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

This information was revealed during a press conference this morning when Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced 55 new cases of the virus, brining the state's total to 743.

The state Department of Health has tracked down and contacted 50,000 people who may have had contact with those 743 confirmed cases.

Ms Palaszczuk said this was an "enormous effort" by the health department and showed it was doing "everything they possibly can" to stop the spread of the virus.

"They have a unit of 500 people who are doing that contact tracing. I've said we will throw whatever we need at it," she said.

The state has also issued more than 40,000 orders for people to self-isolate and will be bolstering efforts to trace those people's movements.

 

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath also praised Queensland Health, saying the department was leading the country in their contact-tracing efforts.

"As we know, the work of Queensland Health has been incredible in their contact tracing and identifying those who have tested positive and those who have come in contact with people who have tested positive and those most at risk," she said.

"It is really important that we do everything possible to support (Queensland) Health in this job. I have been receiving briefings from Queensland Health about the significant work they are doing in contact tracing, and I have to say they are leading the country in this area."

Ms D'Ath said a new team would be set up to help enforce the self-isolation and quarantine orders.

"This is the only way we can save lives in this state, making sure that everyone who has received a notice to quarantine or isolate understand the significance of that order," she said.

"You can't pop down to the shops, you can't go out for a walk, you should not be leaving your home if you are on a quarantine or isolation order. We will be supporting those efforts to help trace, to help monitor and to ensure compliance of those.

 

 

"We will also work with our law enforcement agencies and those who are ensuring that those public directives are being complied with out in our community.

"We cannot emphasise enough how significant this is and how important this is, and that is why the Palaszczuk Government will throw absolutely everything at the enforcement, the monitoring and tracking of these individuals on these orders."

Of the people who have been diagnosed with the virus, 65 are in hospital with seven in intensive care and five of those people on ventilators.

Health Minister Steven Miles said more than 46,800 people in the state had now been tested and the positive rate was 1.6 per cent, below the national positive rate of 1.88 per cent.

Mr Miles noted there was a public health alert for people in Cairns who had been at the Edmonton PCYC on March 14 for a wrestling competition.

"Given that is more than two weeks ago, there is no need for anyone to take any action if they are currently well," he said.

"However, if they became unwell in the 14 days from 14th to 28th, they are urged to seek medical advice if they became unwell with respiratory symptoms.

"As you can see, this exercise of identifying where every positive case has been and who they might have come into contact with is very, very substantial."

Returning overseas travellers check in to an airport hotel in Brisbane where they will spend 14 days of quarantine. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Returning overseas travellers check in to an airport hotel in Brisbane where they will spend 14 days of quarantine. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Queensland's chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young said it was important for people to continue following social distancing advice and stay home as much as possible,

"You've heard all those figures about the number of orders that have been issued to date and that is so important because then we won't need to contact trace those hundreds of people for each case," she said.

"We will only need to contact trace the people in the home and the people who are out at work."

Dr Young said the new resources being put into contact tracing would quarantine people faster, As a result, if they did end up with the virus, the people they had come into contact with would be limited to their household.

She then explained the difference between being ordered to quarantine and being ordered to isolate.

 

Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young during a press conference at Queensland Parliament House in Brisbane. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young during a press conference at Queensland Parliament House in Brisbane. Picture: Darren England/AAP

 

"Just to explain the difference again, quarantine is about well people. So when we ask someone to quarantine, they are perfectly well and we are asking them to go into quarantine for 14 days because there is a risk that they will develop the infection and we want to minimise the number of people they will potentially give that infection to," Dr Young said.

"That's why that is now occurring for people coming through our international border in designated hotels. In those hotels the people will be kept quarantined from each other so that they will be in a room with their partner if they've been in contact with that partner up to that point, so those two people, but not with other people, and that's important."

Dr Young said when someone was told to go into isolation they were already sick, which means they are able to transmit the infection from that time.

"We want them to be in absolute isolation. That's the difference. We do not want them to come into contact with anyone in their family in their home," she said.

"We want them to remove themselves from the rest of their family and stay in a different part of their household."

 

 

 

Originally published as 50,000 people warned of virus exposure

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 50,000 people had been warned they may have been exposed to the virus. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 50,000 people had been warned they may have been exposed to the virus. Picture: Darren England/AAP

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