/ 31 March 2021

Queensland braces for more bad COVID news

THE SQUIZ
Greater Brisbane has been declared a COVID hotspot as 8 new locally-acquired cases of the virus were reported there yesterday. There are 2 clusters on the go with 10 cases linked to the ‘doctor’ cluster since its kick-off earlier this month and 8 cases from the ‘nurse’ cluster, which emerged on Monday. Both stem from unvaccinated medical staff working at the city’s Princess Alexandra Hospital who contracted the virus from patients with the highly infectious UK strain. The major hospital in Brissie’s south was locked down last night as a “precautionary measure”.

HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN?
That’s what Queensland officials are looking into. The state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young yesterday said going forward, only medical staff who have received at least their first vaccination shot are allowed to treat COVID patients. Asked whether she thought there would be more cases, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said yep. “The big question will be whether or not we see unlinked community transmission.” She will give an update today on whether the lockdown will lift tomorrow, which is looking tricky with the Gold Coast, Hervey Bay, Gladstone, and Byron Bay (including a cross-border ‘entertainer’…) linked to new cases. For now, Brisbanites face border restrictions, and residents from Toowoomba can’t go to the Top End after the territory declared it a hotspot. That’s because Chief Minister Michael Gunner developed symptoms and remains in isolation awaiting test results after his in-laws came to Darwin for a visit from the Queensland city on the weekend. Talk about a double whammy…

ANY IDEA YET ON HOW COVID STARTED?
Kind of… It’s been more than a month since World Health Organisation investigators left China, and their final report into COVID’s origin was released yesterday. They have narrowed it to 4 possible scenarios – the most likely is that it was transmitted to humans from bats via another animal. What that intermediate animal host was is still unknown. The least likely source of the virus? A laboratory leak. Investigators also said they believe the virus was spreading for no more than 2 months before it was first noticed in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

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