Four new cases as mining camp quarantine considered

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queensland has recorded four new cases overnight, none of which are in the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which was the subject of a mass evacuation on Wednesday as a cluster of the highly infectious UK strain of COVID-19 grew to six.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said two of the new cases were from the US and two from South Africa who are in another quarantine hotel.

Dr Young also clarified more details around the initial case involving the cleaner who contracted the mutant UK strain from a guest in the Grand Chancellor.

"What I do know is the man from the UK and his partner arrived at the hotel on December 30 and left his room on January 3 to go to hospital," she said

"The cleaner only worked January 2 and the man was still in the room on the 2nd, so the cleaner did not go into the room on the 2nd."

Dr Young said police were investigating if anyone at the Hotel Grand Chancellor left their room without permission but that she was "certain" the cleaner did not go into the room of the man infected with the UK covid variant.

Ms Palaszczuk delivered the latest update as mystery remains behind a cluster of the highly infectious UK strain that has forced 600 people into quarantine.

The extreme action was taken on Wednesday after another two cases were added to the cluster of the mutant UK strain at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, taking the total to six, with health authorities admitting they have no idea how the virus was passed to them.

Combined with 250 guests who had stayed at the hotel since December 30, 226 workers and 129 guests who have been relocated to other hotels, it means more than 600 people will be forced into quarantine.

Ms Palaszczuk said 226 staff at the Hotel Grand Chancellor have since been contacted and are being tested and isolated, with 129 guests removed yesterday and transported to another hotel.

Queensland Health is also in the process of contacting 147 former guests.

Dr Young said all 129 guests were treated "as if they had COVID-19" during the evacuation.

Dr Young said she was confident the close contacts of the cleaner and her partner had been found, while the Premier confirmed none of them have yet tested positive.

She said there is very little concern there had been spread in the community from those two people.

The AHPPC has fully endorsed Queensland's actions in relation to the UK strain cluster.

Three quarters of the former guests have been tracked down and tested.

The Premier said the government was looking at all options for hotel quarantine into the future, including mining camps.

The Premier said it was a rational option and something that deserved careful consideration, and that most of the facilities had balconies.

She said she was putting the option forward to the federal government.

"With this new strain, we have to put all options on the table," she said.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said it was "a difficult choice" to require guests nearing the end of their quarantine stay at the Hotel Grand Chancellor to quarantine up to another 14 days.

Ms D'Ath said Queensland Health had contacted almost all people and staff related to the Hotel Grand Chancellor cluster.

"We have contacted almost all contacts now, we only have that few left who are former quarantine guests," she said.

"Which means that we have a really good grasp of having this controlled at this point."

Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the investigation into how the cleaner contracted covid was ongoing.

He said police are in the process of conducting interviews, reconstructing movements and reviewing CCTV footage and the hotel's air conditioning system.

"We're in the process of looking at that CCTV footage," he said.

Dr Young on Wednesday said they were looking at whether the highly-contagious UK strain may have spread through airconditioning as it was revealed a father and daughter returned from Lebanon who had stayed on the same floor as patient-zero had also tested positive, with the cases part of the same cluster.

Returned overseas travellers, who have already completed 14 days in quarantine at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, were on Wednesday evacuated to other hotels for another 14 days as authorities scramble to establish how the cases have been transmitted.

Ms Palaszczuk said the cluster of the highly infectious strain was of "national concern".

The six cases 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 December 30.

· A hotel cleaner in her 20s.

· Her partner - a man in his 20s.

· A man in his 40s who arrived from Lebanon on January 1.

· His daughter - a woman in her 20s, who arrived on January 1.

News Corp Australia

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