It’s pretty good news that those who came in possible contact with an aged care nurse at a care centre in Rockhampton, central Queensland and who tested positive to COVID-19 have tested negative to the virus, Steven Miles the Health Minister has confirmed.
“We have now tested 193 people, including 114 residents, the rest being staff and other contacts — all 193 tests have returned negative,” Mr Miles said.
Queensland Health reported that the nurse from Rockhampton who last Friday triggered a lockdown at the state-owned Nursing Centre in North Rockhampton, had taken the COVID-19 test after showing symptoms of the disease, but returned to her workstation before receiving the positive test results.
In an earlier statement, Queensland Health said arrangements were underway to transfer 35 lower risk patients in the Westwood Wind of the state-run facility to Mater and Hillcrest private hospitals by Saturday.
The Chief Health Officer (CHO) in Queensland, Jeannette Young, affirmed that the nurse had been serving from a reception desk and had no direct engagement with the residents of the centre.
“She wasn’t providing hands-on care to the residents which are a good thing … but she did have contact with people and that is why we’re being extremely cautious,” Dr Young said.
Contact Tracing ‘Limitations’
Rockhampton authorities were working around the clock to trace the nurse’s movements since May 3, the day when it’s believed she might have contracted the disease.
However, Dr Young said the infected nurse had been out and about in the community and it was proving nearly impossible to trace all the people she interacted with.
“The limitations of contact tracing are we can only contact people when we have their contact details,” she said.
“We can’t tell exactly who’s been within 15 minutes, within 1.5 metres of the nurse.”
Dr Young urged anybody in Rockhampton with concerns to get tested the soonest for the disease.
Apparently, after the CQ University Vice Chancellor’s office confirmed that the nurse had visited the North Rockhampton campus library, it was immediately closed at 4:00 pm on Friday.
The university confirmed that the library had been disinfected and the facility expected to reopen on Saturday.
According to Brittany Lauga, the local State MP, contact tracers were trying their best to determine where the nurse had visited during the time she was infected albeit asymptomatic.
“I think we will possibly hear of more public places that this confirmed case visited in the time that she was infectious … that we need to put warnings out [about],” she said.
Chief Health Officer Is Asking People To Stay Home If Sick
It’s believed that the nurse could have been infected while in Brisbane, and that there was absolutely “no error” with her travel to and from Brisbane since it was for an essential purpose.
However, the CHO told stormassist.com.au that it was very unfortunate and “extremely disappointing” that some Australians were still ignorant of the warning to stay away from workplace if unwell.
“The most important thing we can all do is just to stay at home if we’re sick.”
Dr Young added that she was deeply concerned that this case could turn into a repeat of what happened in Newmarch House, a cluster in Sydney where 16 aged people died and 69 residents infected.
The more reason why we quickly swung into action by taking several measures including locking down the aged care facility while we carried out the testing.
Council On The Ageing Urging Care Providers To Screen Their Staff
The Council on the Ageing has urged aged providers to screen the health of each staff on shift, at least every day.
“Screen your staff,” said chief executive Ian Yates.
Mr Yates also confirmed that about 30 of the 1,600 aged care facilities across Australia had recorded COVID-19 cases but noted that outbreaks at Newmarch House and Dorothy Henderson Lodge were severe.
Social Distancing Is Paramount In Preventing Spread Of COVID-19
The president of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, Ewen McPhee noted that people in both the rural and regional areas were receiving their COVID-19 test results within 24 hours, except during the weekends.
“If you have a test on the weekend, or on a Friday, you’re not going to get a result until Monday or Tuesday,” he said.
Dr McPhee emphasised that social distancing was a critical step in helping stem the spread of the virus.
“Social distancing has saved us so far,” he said.
He added that travellers should self-isolate when returning from a different region.
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