An investigation has been launched after a sick nurse returned to work at a Queensland aged care home while waiting for her coronavirus test results.
The North Rockhampton Nursing Centre was locked down on Friday amid fears 115 residents and 180 workers at the state-run facility could be infected.
Initial testing of 193 people has come back negative for the virus, however, health minister Steven Miles says it is possible more people could be infected.
“We are taking the risks here very, very seriously,” he told reporters on Saturday.
About 35 low-risk residents have been moved from the home so that residents in the wing where the nurse worked can be spread out to further reduce the risk of infection.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young said it was unfortunate the nurse waited to be tested after developing coronavirus symptoms.
“She was not providing hands-on care to the residents, which is a good thing,” she said.
“The risk to those residents is even less.” Health officials are now tracing the woman’s movements to track down and test people she came into contact with after becoming infected.
“We do not know exactly who has come within 1.5 metres of the nurse so anyone in Rockhampton with any symptoms needs to be immediately tested,” she said.
Ms Young said officials were also investigating the circumstances of the nurse’s testing.
This will include why the woman, who worked in the reception area of the facility, returned to work while waiting for her test results. Mr Miles said it was unacceptable that the nurse had gone to work while having symptoms of the COVID-19 disease.
“To have this happen in a Queensland Health facility is very disappointing,” he said.
“I have asked the director-general to covey to all 100,000 staff that they need to go above and beyond what the chief health officer has advised.” The infected nurse remains in isolation.