Queensland’s chief health officer played down the coronavirus threat to ambulance staff called on to evacuate the Hotel Grand Chancellor.
An unknown paramedic reportedly expressed concerns her colleagues were inadequately trained to handle the highly contagious UK strain of the deadly virus traced to the Brisbane hotel.
But Dr Jeannette Young said she had complete faith in the dozens of ambulance staff trusted to safely transport 129 guests quarantining at the hotel to another site despite the strain being about 70 per cent more infectious and the cause of destructive spikes in cases across the world.
“We have always trained our QAS officers to the maximum level,” she told reporters on Thursday morning. “That is their expertise. They move infectious people every single day. That’s what they do.”
“They have been moving people with this variant but also with diseases that are more infectious than this. They know what they’re doing. I have absolutely no concerns.
“Plus – we moved each room in their own ambulance. We didn’t mix people. That’s why it took so long.”
The evacuation began on Wednesday morning and wasn’t completed until nearly midnight due to the cautious approach to ensure guests from separate rooms didn’t come into contact with one another, Dr Young said.
“I assure you, all of those things were taken into consideration to make sure that the 129 people were kept safe and that anyone around them as this occurred were kept safe,” she said.
“No concerns there.”
Meanwhile, the Sunshine State will consider housing returned travellers and quarantine staff in a bubble at the state’s mining camps in a bid to keep the community safe from overseas-acquired cases of COVID-19.
The move comes despite the state recording no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and as authorities race to track down anyone linked to a concerning hotel quarantine cluster.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she wanted to look at alternative plans to hotel quarantine, which is based in the middle of the Brisbane and Gold Coast CBDs.
“I think this is a rational option, and if we are dealing with a strain which is up to 70 per cent more infectious, I think we need to be really serious about it,” she said.
“I have asked (chief health officer) Dr Young and the health minister and the commissioner and her team to go and look at some options for the government to consider.”
Ms Palaszczuk said some of the camps were “four star” quality and would have fresh air for guests.