Health authorities revealed 50 travellers in Queensland who were potentially exposed to the highly contagious coronavirus strain at a Melbourne airport are still yet to be traced because they provided false or incorrect contact details.
When the Palaszczuk government slammed the borders closed to Victoria on Friday as the Holiday Inn cluster grew, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said authorities were particularly concerned about 1500 people in Queensland who had come into contact with the infection site at Tullamarine Airport.
This alarming number of potentially infected travellers needed to be traced by authorities, tested and isolated until it was certain there was no risk of community transmission in the Sunshine State.
This threat was eased on Saturday when it was announced all 1500 travellers had been traced and contacted, but it has now been revealed 50 were not successfully contacted because personal information provided for the flights was false.
“Initially, we reached out to the full list of people according to the contact details we received from flight manifests, as we normally do,” a Queensland Health spokesperson told NCA NewsWire on Monday afternoon.
“However, around 50 bounced back, likely due to incorrect contact details, which means we’re continuing to follow them up.”
Queensland announced on Friday it would close its borders to greater Melbourne from Saturday morning for 14 days after declaring 36 of the city’s local government areas hot spots.
The call came moments after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a snap five-day lockdown following an emergency meeting with his cabinet as the Holiday Inn cluster continued to spread.
Victoria has returned to stage 4 restrictions until Wednesday at least.
GOLD COAST FIRST
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier on Monday revealed that the Gold Coast would be the first hub entrusted with the COVID-19 vaccine, with vials of the highly anticipated Pfizer jab to arrive as early as next week.
The Gold Coast University Hospital will be used as a trial for the vaccine at the end of the month. The Premier said it would be a “slow rollout” of the vital jab.
It will then be sent to the other regions across the state allocated as distribution hubs — Cairns Hospital, Townsville Hospital, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital and Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
“My understanding is it will start in one hub first, just to do the testing to make sure everything’s fine, and then it will be rolled out to the other hubs,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Monday morning.
Australia’s first doses of the Pfizer vaccine – 142,000 of them – arrived on Monday morning at Sydney Airport, according to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration will now test the vaccines to ensure they meet Australia’s strict quality standards ahead of a vaccine rollout beginning from February 22.
Mr Hunt said about 60,000 vaccines were expected to be administered by the end of February.
About 50,000 doses will be allocated to the states, which will prioritise hotel quarantine workers and frontline health workers most likely to come into contact with positive international arrivals.
An additional 30,000 doses will be made available for elderly and disability residents, their carers and staff.
The second dose of the vaccine will be administered 21 days after the first.
At least 62,000 doses from the initial shipment will be set aside in case there are issues accessing second doses in subsequent weeks.