Australia

Qld hotel walls to be swabbed for UK virus

Queensland authorities are still trying to piece together how a highly contagious strain of COVID-19 spread through a hotel quarantine facility, as they reveal the extraordinary measures they’re taking.Days after it was revealed six cases of the UK variant of the virus were linked at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, the state’s top cop said environmental…

Queensland authorities are still trying to piece together how a highly contagious strain of COVID-19 spread through a hotel quarantine facility, as they reveal the extraordinary measures they’re taking.

Days after it was revealed six cases of the UK variant of the virus were linked at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, the state’s top cop said environmental swabbing of the hotel had been completed.

Commissioner Katarina Carroll said swabs had been taken of “the service area where the staff work, the walls.”

“This will be subjected to extensive testing by Queensland Health,” she said.

Queensland has recorded one historic COVID-19 case, as the state’s hotel quarantine system continues to come under fire.

It comes days after the Hotel Grand Chancellor was evacuated, as authorities race to work out how two returned travellers went on to infect four others linked to the facility.

The 129 guests currently quarantining, as well as 226 staff and 147 former guests have been put into an additional 14 days isolation to combat any further outbreaks.

The vast majority have since tested negative.

Queensland Police have interviewed three of the six infected people, and CCTV footage continues to be examined, accompanied by infection analysis.

The cases appear to be linked to floor seven, however the Hotel Grand Chancellor did not have CCTV on that floor.

As a result, commissioner Carroll said a major overhaul was required.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 10,820 tests had been carried out in the last period, and two new cases were detected in hotel quarantine.

She said an additional historical case had been detected in Cairns.

Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the man, in his 40s, had returned from the Congo in September and tested negative while in hotel quarantine. However, a recent test result came back positive.

Dr Young said that would explain why there was “persistent shedding” detected in Cairns sewage.

While the investigation remains ongoing, the premier faced a grilling over the handling of two returned travellers at the Hotel Grand Chancellor earlier this week.

The Courier Mail revealed on Thursday that two people in hotel quarantine, a woman and her father who had returned from Lebanon, left the facility just hours before testing positive for a mutant strain of COVID-19.

The woman accompanied her father to hospital, and after previous speculation the woman had returned to the hotel via taxi, Queensland Health confirmed she had been in full PPE and transported in an ambulance.

Commissioner Carroll said extensive independent inquiries had been undertaken, and that nothing was awry.

More to come.

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