Panic in small town after 30-year-old's suspected coronavirus death

Worried residents of a small Queensland town where Australia’s youngest possible coronavirus victim died this week are lining up to undergo tests for the deadly disease.

On Tuesday, Nathan Turner – a miner from the remote town of Blackwater, 200km west of Rockhampton – was found dead at his home by his bride-to-be after she returned from work.

With the source of the 30-year-old’s infection unknown, authorities are scrambling to determine if there is community transmission in the coal-mining town of 5000.

Nathan Turner had shown symptoms for weeks, but never went to get tested. Source: Facebook

Queensland health authorities said on Thursday 20 contacts of Mr Turner had been tested, with 18 returning negative results.

A total of 31 Blackwater residents tested negative on Wednesday, with 95 more to be tested on Thursday, Health Minister Steven Miles said.

Mr Turner’s partner tested negative for the virus, but was in isolation. 

A picture taken by ABC journalist Rachel McGhee shows a line of residents waiting outside Blackwater’s emergency fever clinic to get tested for coronavirus. 

Mr Miles said three coronavirus clinics, capable of testing more than 400 people each day, were now operating in the town.

Mr Turner became infected despite not having left his hometown since February. He also had not worked since November because of an unknown underlying medical condition.

Authorities are trying to work out if there is any link between the miner and the Rockhampton nurse who was previously heavily criticised by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk after the health worker continued to work in a nursing home despite showing symptoms and later tested positive for coronavirus.

It has since been revealed the nurse drove to Blackwater to watch the sunset while travel restrictions were in place.

Mr Miles did not say exactly when the nurse made her 400km round trip, but revealed authorities knew about it before Mr Turner died.

“She said she had driven to Blackwater to watch the sunrise and hadn’t gotten out of her car or had any contact with anyone,” a Queensland Health source told The Australian.

“It’s a strange place to go to watch the sunrise.’’

The nurse made the near 400km round trip to Blackwater in early May despite restrictions. Source: Google Maps

Queensland Health says it appears Mr Turner began displaying respiratory symptoms in the first week of May, while the nurse travelled to Blackwater in the second week of May.

The department is still trying to determine whether Mr Turner died because of the virus after it was only discovered he had the virus in a post-mortem examination.

A coroner will determine the cause of Mr Turner's death. He was not tested for coronavirus while he was still alive because of the seriousness of his underlying condition.

A total of 103 people have died from the coronavirus in Australia. Seven were Queenslanders.

with AAP

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