Two new clusters of a highly virulent COVID-19 strain are potentially running rampant through Queensland, as health authorities confirm they are dealing with two “confusing” clusters.
Queensland’s COVID-19 outbreak has grown by eight cases overnight, as millions of residents wake to their first day of a 72-hour lockdown.
As of Tuesday morning, there are now 15 cases linked to “two distinct clusters” which both emerged from the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
One of these is linked to a doctor from Princess Alexandra Hospital who was detected earlier this month, and the second is linked to the nurse who worked on the COVID-19 ward before she had been vaccinated.
She and her sister were included in Monday’s numbers.
Chief health officer Jeanette Young tried to explain the clusters to reporters on Tuesday morning, but admitted even she was having trouble getting her head around it.
“The nurse worked at the PA Hospital on March 18 in the COVID ward. We now have the genome sequence result back… She has exactly the same genome to a gentleman who arrived and was treated in the PA Hospital and was tested on March 22,” chief health officer Jeanette Young said.
“She did do a shift on the night of March 23.
“My hypothesis… She has acquired the infection when at work… But I don’t know whether she got it directly from that patient, because she wasn’t working with COVID cases that night… or whether she’s got it from someone else in the hospital.
“That all has to be worked through.”
The state’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said five of the new cases were related to the nurse.
“They all attended a party together down in Byron Bay,” she said.
The sixth case is most likely linked to the same cluster.
“Then the (sixth) case I still need to get more information (on), but I’ve been told is a close contact of a known case,” Dr Young said.
The other two are so far unlinked and are under investigation but Dr Young said she believed they were “older cases” linked to the doctor’s cluster.
“I’m very grateful to that first young man who came forward and got tested,” Dr Young said.
Dr Young apologised as she explained how convoluted the details were.
“It’s very confusing, I apologise,” she said.
The nurse and her sister spent the weekend at Byron Bay while unknowingly infectious, while one of the men spent a number of days in Gladstone.
No new cases were detected in NSW overnight, despite the women visiting two major locations.
As a result, a mask mandate and other restrictions have been imposed for the entire state, while Greater Brisbane residents are now only permitted to leave their home for four essential reasons.
More than two million people living in Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Redlands, Logan and Ipswich council areas can only go outside for essentials, for medical care, to exercise, and to work and study if they cannot do so at home.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said six of Tuesday’s cases are close contacts of previously confirmed cases, and two are under investigation.
There are 78 cases active in the state. Two new cases were detected in hotel quarantine on Tuesday.