Dr Young races to track down eight from quarantine | Alds

Dr Young races to track down eight from quarantine

Authorities have tracked down eight people who stayed on the same floor of a Brisbane hotel quarantine facility that housed a COVID-19 “superspreader”.

In the biggest test for Queensland since the three-day lockdown in January, fears are mounting that the Russian variant spread throughout the eighth floor of the Hotel Mercure at North Quay.

The suspected superspreader travelled into Brisbane on February 17 from Doha on Qatar Airways flight QR898, and five other cases of the Russian variant, B1.1.317, have since been linked.

All cases have been detected at the same hotel, however the chief health officer conceded on Friday it was “most likely” the virus had spread on the flight, which continued onto New Zealand, where another case has been confirmed.

While authorities do not hold the same fears about the Russian variant as they do the UK and South African strains, they concede they do not know enough about it, and have a four day “period of concern”.

Authorities are investigating whether any transmission occurred within the hotel between February 18 and 21.

Dr Young said eight people, six of whom had remained in Queensland, one who travelled onto Victoria and one who was still in the hotel had been traced, and would be retested and isolate until Monday.

All 74 people who were on the same flight as the initial case have had their hotel quarantine period extended to Monday.

Dr Young said she was taking a “cautious approach”.

“We don’t want anything to derail the rollout of our vaccine,” she said on Friday.

“There is absolutely no indication of any breach … We’ve had outbreaks from other hotels in other states (with even the usual variant).

“We know it can get out, it’s a function of those corridors.”

Dr Young said she was grateful for those who had already left the Mercure, and those who remained inside until Monday, for getting additional tests and remaining isolated.

“I think it’s unlikely that it’s a risk, but it is a risk no matter how small so I just want to work that through,” Dr Young said on Thursday.

“With multiple cases linked to flight QR898 and floor eight of the Mercure Brisbane Hotel, we need to ensure we protect the community

“The problem with it is not the variant, it’s the one individual. Through this pandemic we have had instances of super spread. I’m concerned that this individual is a superspreader. I’m not concerned about it being a Russian variant. It’s just another variant, no different.”

Dr Young said there was no risk to the community at this stage.

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