Australia COVID-19 scare in Sippy Downs apartment block sparks calls for transparency from Queensland Health

08:35  04 august  2021
08:35  04 august  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Residents in a Sunshine Coast suburb are frustrated at what they say is a lack of information from Queensland Health after the inhabitants of a Sippy Downs apartment building were ordered to get urgent COVID-19 tests.

Residents in the High Street building were alerted to a "potential COVID-19 exposure event" via text message and email on Monday night.

The letter from the Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit said all residents needed to be tested at a drive-through clinic as soon as possible.

It also said that those who used the elevator on Saturday, July 31 between 1:00pm and 4:00pm and on Sunday, August 1 between 4:50pm and 6pm needed to isolate and await further instructions from Queensland Health.

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Queensland 's health department fears the state's latest Covid outbreak may have spread north after a Cairns resident is believed to have tested positive. While the case is yet to be confirmed, authorities said on Tuesday afternoon they had been notified of a potential positive case in the Cairns region. Queensland Health said it would provide contact tracing details for the case in Cairns once the positive result was confirmed. The state's latest Covid outbreak of the Indian delta variant continues to grow, with 16 new cases of community transmission announced on Tuesday morning.

Queensland Health confirmed to the ABC that the alert related to a confirmed case who visited the apartment block and was understood to have the Delta variant.

But a spokeswoman said the building would "not be listed as an exposure venue on the website, as contact tracing has been able to contact those affected".

'Spreads so quickly'

Longtime Sippy Downs resident Anita Breen said the information should have been made public to the entire community and not just those living in the building.

"Delta spreads so quickly and with an apartment block of this size, who knows where people have been in our area?

"Coles, Woolworths, petrol stations, fast food outlets — you just don't know."

Sippy Downs is home to more than 11,000 people, many of whom live in apartment buildings.

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Covid Qld : check the full list of the latest public health exposure sites, Covid - 19 hotspots and coronavirus case locations in Brisbane, south-east Queensland and regional Qld . Close contacts – quarantine and wait until further advice from Queensland Health . If you have been to any locations designated close contacts in Queensland at the relevant times you must immediately quarantine, get tested at your earliest opportunity and complete the online contact tracing form on the Queensland government website.

There is also the University of the Sunshine Coast's main campus, multiple schools and shopping complexes.

'Really frightened'

Ms Breen heard about the High Street scare through the Sunshine Coast Kindness Pandemic Facebook group, a social media network she started last year to support people through the pandemic.

She said other residents had also expressed concern.

"People are really frightened in our community and are reaching out for help, support and advice," she said.

"Queensland Health needs to be more transparent and this should have been made public on Monday.

"The adjoining apartment blocks residents are concerned as it's very close to them."

Building not locked down

The residents of the apartment building, which is not locked down, now face an anxious wait for their test results.

"As currently advised by Queenland Health, our buildings are not in lockdown," the property's management explained in an email to residents today.

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Another Sydney apartment Hundreds of residents at the apartment block in Campbelltown in Sydney's south-west have been stopped from leaving due to fears of a Covid outbreak in the building.

Queensland has recorded nine new Covid - 19 cases with its snap three-day lockdown likely to be extended as the outbreak spreads between several schools. Dr Young admitted restrictions would only be rolled back when case numbers were down and all of the cases were not out in the community while infectious. 'The threshold is that I'm confident that all the cases that potentially have been exposed are safely in quarantine and are unlikely to end up having been infectious out in the community so unlikely to have been out there spreading,' she said.

"As a precaution, we have conducted a deep clean of the building and another clean will be conducted today."

The ABC has contacted the building's property management group for comment.

'Missing link' still missing

Queensland recorded 17 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases overnight, none of which were on the Sunshine Coast.

There are now 63 cases in the cluster that began at the end of last week with the positive test result of a 17-year-old schoolgirl in Brisbane's western suburbs.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the "missing link" between two travellers who flew into Brisbane on June 29 – one of whom lives on the Sunshine Coast – and the schoolgirl may never be known.

Staff and students at several schools in the region were asked to take tests in an attempt to rule out any link with the Brisbane outbreak.

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