Testing reveals Brisbane virus cluster

·3-min read

A second COVID-19 cluster has emerged at a Brisbane quarantine hotel where an outbreak earlier this year led to the entire city being locked down.

Genomic sequencing of two guests staying in separate rooms on level one of the Hotel Grand Chancellor, as well as a doctor who later treated one of them in the Princess Alexandra Hospital, has linked all three cases.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Sonya Bennett says laboratory analysis shows the first guest passed the virus on to the second guest and the doctor between March 5 and 9.

"Late last night the whole genomic sequencing confirmed that is likely the case," she told reporters.

"So the whole genomic sequencing is what we call a match between the three cases."

Dr Bennett said it's uncertain how transmission occurred between separate rooms at the hotel, which was previously shut down due to an outbreak in January.

The earlier outbreak triggered a snap three-day lockdown of Greater Brisbane as well.

At that time four guests and a cleaner - and later her partner at home - became infected, but there were no CCTV cameras on the floor where the spread occurred.

"We know we've seen this before, we know that some people are highly infectious, and that is likely the case in this instance, and can transmit the virus through very little exposure," Dr Bennett said.

She said the Grand Chancellor wasn't necessarily a problem, with cases emerging in hotel quarantine in other states as well.

Dr Bennett said transmissions are events "that happen" and need to be managed and investigated why they do, because "we really already have such robust procedures in place".

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said if the government had implemented all recommendations made in a report into the first Grand Chancellor outbreak there would not be a second cluster there.

"They're saying that they've done it all, but if that's the case how has it happened again," she said.

Authorities are tracking down 206 guests who finished quarantine at the hotel and left since March 5.

Queensland Health has also been testing 272 possible contacts of the doctor and 160 staff at the PA Hospital, but 86 have come back negative.

The infected doctor had been treating COVID-19 patients without being vaccinated herself, but Health Minister Yvette D'Ath defended the practice.

Allowing only vaccinated health staff to treat patients infected with coronavirus would cut the workforce in half, the health minister said.

"That is not safe, that is not sensible, you can't do that, no state is doing that," Ms D'Ath said.

The PA remains in lockdown and all hospitals, aged care and disability facilities in the Greater Brisbane area are closed to visitors, and masks must be worn inside them.

Dr Bennett said it was unnecessary to extend the lockdown to the wider city at this stage, with no perception of a risk in the community.

Queensland reported six new cases in hotel quarantine on Monday, but they're not linked to the Grand Chancellor cluster, after 4376 tests were conducted.

There are 38 active cases in the state on Monday.