‘A nurse should know better’: Premier’s stern words for sick aged care worker

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

The Queensland premier has criticised the aged care nurse who worked while infectious with COVID-19 for a possible 11 days before being diagnosed.

State-owned North Rockhampton nursing home in Rockhampton, central Queensland, was placed into lockdown after the female staff member tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did not mix her words when addressing the issue on Sunday, expressing she was less than impressed at the individual for continuing to work while experiencing symptoms.

“It is not acceptable for anyone who is sick in this particular pandemic we are dealing with to go to work, if they are sick,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was hard to believe a nurse would continue working while sick. Source: AAP

“The Chief Medical Officer has been very clear, abundantly clear: If you are sick, stay at home. It is very clear. Honestly, a nurse should know better.”

An investigation was set to be launched into the matter, which posed a serious threat to the facility’s 115 residents and 180 workers, who subsequently all had to undergo coronavirus testing.

“The Health Department will do that (investigate) as a matter of course anyway, but thankfully so far, everything has been dealt with. But common-sense and the public health messages are very clear: If you have sick, stay at home,” she said.

Six people in close contact with the nurse have all returned negative results to COVID-19 testing.

“They have been doing a lot of contact tracing. We have built up a very good rapid response team, but also too our contact tracing is state-of-the-art,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

She added that with small businesses beginning to open up under a slight easing of restrictions, it was crucial that those workers also stayed home if they experienced any symptoms.

The North Rockhampton nursing home where a nurse tested positive. Source: Google Maps

“Small business operators, if you are working anywhere in Queensland and you are unwell, please stay at home,” she said.

“Honestly it is not worth the risk. Look what we've seen with a person turning up to work sick and turning up to work after having been tested as well. It is just not acceptable.”

‘Stay home’

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard shared a similar message on Sunday, imploring people to stay out of public spaces even if they had the slightest hint of a symptom.

Highlighting the dangerous threat posed by the virus, he stressed that despite a winding back of restrictions, people were still very much “sitting ducks”.

“I do want to remind people that this virus is extremely dangerous, and we are all - every one of us - sitting ducks for this virus,” he said.

“If you have any symptoms of a cold, cough, runny nose, temperature - don't go to work, but don't go out, and certainly don't go and put your friends at risk, and definitely don't put anybody over the age of 70 at risk, and don't put anybody over the age of 50 with other health conditions.

“Stay home. Stay home until you're better. But go and get tested as well. We're living in dangerous times. We can still have fun, but they're dangerous times until we sort this virus issue out.”

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