Queensland regions enter snap lockdown

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Parts of Queensland have been slammed into a snap lockdown after an unvaccinated health worker travelled to Townsville while unknowingly infectious with COVID-19.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palacek said she is “absolutely furious” after the casual hospital receptionist who worked in the vicinity of a COVID-19 ward in Brisbane travelled to regional Queensland. All health workers are required to be vaccinated under the current public health order in place.

The state has recorded two new locally acquired cases overnight. One is a miner from the Northern Territory who returned to the Ipswich area, but health authorities believe he is low risk. Remaining miners who have returned to Queensland are still being tested but so far more than 120 have returned negative results. However, Palacek said they are very concerned about the movements of the receptionist, particularly on the regional communities.

The 19-year-old worker developed symptoms on June 21, and had been infectious in the community for 10 days. Two family members and a close friend have also shown symptoms and are being urgently tested. Health authorities do not know whether the health worker has the Delta variant as genome sequencing is still being carried out.

South-east Queensland, Townsville, Magnetic Island, and Palm Island will enter a three-day snap lockdown from 6pm tonight. Residents in those areas will only be allowed to leave home for the four reasons outlined, such as shopping for essentials, exercising outdoors, accessing medical treatment and for caring responsibilities. Fever clinics will be set up on Magnetic Island and all 2,000 residents have asked to come forward for testing, even if they are not symptomatic.

“We need to go hard and we need to go fast,” Palacek said, announcing the lockdown this morning. She also called on the government to reduce the number of overseas arrivals, saying the current hotel quarantine system is putting communities at risk. Palacek confirmed authorities would investigate why the worker had not been vaccinated.

"She was located outside the ward, so for some reason, she wasn't vaccinated," she said.

"There will be a full investigation into that. Let's just say this virus is contagious. It is hard to contain it in hotels and it's hard to contain it in hospitals. That's the truth of the matter."

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