COVID-19: Fear ‘superspreader’ on Qatar flight to Queensland
Queensland has recorded 2 cases of the ‘Russian variant’ of the virus in passengers who arrived on a Qatar Airways flight QR898. These 2 cases were from a total of 6 cases on the flight that recorded positive results.
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The Queensland Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young is not concerned about the ‘Russian Variant’ that is not regarded as particularly virulent, but she is concerned about the possibility that one passenger on the flight is a ‘superspreader’.
It is thought that some transmissions occurred on the plane, but the real worry for Queensland is that the ‘superspreader’ transferred the virus to other passengers residing on the 8th floor of the Mercure Hotel while in quarantine in Brisbane.
Passengers about to leave have been asked to stay
Some of the passengers on the QR898 of 17 February were within hours of completing their quarantine, but have been asked to remain for a few more days. For those who have already departed and possibly flown interstate or on to New Zealand, Dr Young is asking them to get tested immediately and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
Queensland COVID numbers
Queensland, although not recording any community transmission today, has recorded 7 COVID-19 cases in returned travellers.
Especially worrying is the rise in the number of travellers testing positive who are returning from Papua New Guinea, which seems to be experiencing a new wave of infection. Given the lack of testing and meagre health resources in the country, there could be a significant outbreak going on, yet to be properly detected and reported.
Queensland, like South Australia and especially Western Australia tends to have a hair trigger for closing borders and locking down. Although in this case, the problem is returned travellers, so a state border lockdown imposed by Queensland would be a bit of an own goal. However other states might take this potential outbreak as a reason to close their state borders. Lets hope not.
More worrying I think is the rise in cases in returning travellers from Papua New Guinea. Not only does this represent a threat to Australia, it also portends a tragedy for New Guinea, which has poor health infrastructure, and many remote indigenous communities. That is a recipe for disaster.