Covid hotel closes after cluster of infectious UK strain emerges

Brianne Tolj
·3-min read

A Queensland hotel’s quarantine operation has been shut down after six people on the same floor have all been found to be infected by the mutant, highly-infectious UK Covid strain.

Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk said on Wednesday that all six cases in the UK variant Covid-19 cluster, who are in isolation, were on the seventh floor of Brisbane's Grand Chancellor Hotel at different times during quarantine.

They include a man in his thirties who arrived from the UK on December 30, his partner – a woman in her thirties who arrived from the UK on the same day, a hotel cleaner in her twenties, her partner – a man in his twenties, a man in his forties who arrived from Lebanon on January 1 and his daughter – a woman in her twenties who arrived the same day.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is seen during a press conference at Parliament House. Source: AAP
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk said on Wednesday that all six cases in the UK strain Covid-19 cluster were from the same floor. Source: AAP

All 129 people quarantining at the hotel will now be moved to another hotel and tested, while 226 people have worked at the hotel since December 30 will be isolated and tested.

Another 250 guests who have left the hotel since December 30 will be contacted and told to isolate while they're tested.

"Have a look what's happening in the UK, what's happening in Ireland, I mean, this, if it if it gets out of control it can have devastating consequences," Ms Palaszcuk said.

"Right now we do know that this strain is coming into Australia from overseas arrivals, they're not just coming into Queensland, it's coming to other states as well, so I think everybody needs to be on a higher alert."

The Hotel Grand Chancellor is seen in Brisbane. Source: AAP
The Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane had been accepting quarantined guests since September. Source: AAP

She said the handling of arrivals and the suitability of quarantine hotels must be reassessed.

"What we are dealing with here is something that we've never had to deal with before," the premier said.

"When we were dealing with the COVID, we knew what we were dealing with over a period of time, but now this is a new highly infectious strain. We do not want to see this getting out into the community."

The six UK cases were found to have the same strain through genomic testing.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said it was crucial to ensure everyone at the hotel quarantined for the next 14-days because there had been two separate cases of transmission there.

"If we find out what's happened on that floor seven and that's a reason for how it's moved, transmitted, then that might change, but at this point in time it's 14 days because I don't know how that transmission has occurred," she said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian looks on during a COVID-19 update press conference.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging Sydney residents to get tested.

NSW records one local Covid case

NSW has recorded one new locally-acquired Covid-19 case as the premier warns the state continues to mop up virus transmission.

The sole case in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday was in a child who was a close contact of a previously confirmed case linked to the Berala cluster in western Sydney, which now numbers 28 people.

Six Covid-19 cases were uncovered in NSW hotel quarantine.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday also confirmed a Covid-positive man, who presented to Mount Druitt Hospital with respiratory symptoms, and his partner are linked to the Berala cluster.

There were more than 20,600 tests in the 24-hour reporting period.

Victoria has gone one week without recording a local or interstate acquired case of coronavirus, as the state government defends its decision to remain closed to Greater Sydney.

with AAP

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