Could Queensland outbreak have been avoided?

The big news overnight has been the discovery six new coronavirus cases linked to the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre at Wacol, which for people elsewhere, is between Brisbane and Ipswich to the west. It’s near where the three young women lived who lied and gamed the system returning from Melbourne making Premier Palaszczuk ‘absolutely furious’

Here’s what we know so far about Queensland’s coronavirus outbreak in the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre posted this afternoon by the ABC.

Initially we had 77-year-old prison supervisor who worked five shifts last week while infected, but asymptomatic until just a headache in the last two days. Now suddenly we have four more prison workers, and two associates infected.

Genomic sequencing is being done to identify the original source, but results will only be available at the end of next week.

So now we have a worker from the suburb of Marsden (in the Logan City Council area), another worker who is also a contractor for QBuild and had been working on upgrades at the Springwood State High School, his wife who lives with him in the Brisbane suburb of Carindale, another worker who also works at a disability accommodation facility in North Ipswich, a relative of that worker who has visited the Ipswich Hospital, plus another worker who lives in the Brisbane suburb of Forest Lake.

As I type I’ve heard the national A/CHO Paul Kelly praise Qld for the rapidity of response.

When you look at it, the 77 year old was identified as positive on Wednesday, four days after she last worked. Not sure when she was tested.

Now the 127 youth and over 500 workers have been tested, but we have only been told that 56 results have so far come back negative. I doubt that is up to date, but we’ve been told to brace ourselves for more bad news to come.

That is not rapid, and well outside the 48-hour maximum from testing to 90% complete contact tracing specified by Professor Toole.

We heard that the 77 year-old had worked in the operations centre, that she had not walked through the accommodation section and had limited contact with “a very small number” of young people. They could monitor here movement with the CCTV.

Queensland Health have now released an Urgent COVID-19 update which lists some changes in ‘restricted areas’. The restricted areas are the Brisbane metropolitan area, Ipswich City, Logan City, the Scenic Rim, Somerset Region, Lockyer Valley, the Moreton Bay Local Government Area, and Redland City.

For non-residents, that’s metropolitan Brisbane plus SEQ to the west and south, but not the Gold Coast.

For most citizens it means that they can’t hold sundry gatherings in private homes and public spaces with more 10 people. Restaurants and such with COVID-safe plans are unaffected. Also there will be restrictions on visiting residential aged care and disability accommodation facilities, plus restrictions on residents leaving such facilities. Hospitals will also restrict visitation.

However, this is the important one:

    Hospital emergency departments, aged care facilities and disability accommodation facilities will use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including face masks and gloves to treat all patients and residents.

To me that is after the horse has bolted.

This afternoon I heard of some overseas research which identifies most infections as occurring through unstructured movement inside buildings, such as restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels and workplaces.

I’m thinking that if the 77 year-old had been wearing a mask, then all this grief may never have happened.

As restrictions have been lifted, my wife and I have been venturing out, but with care, and on the mutual agreement that we wear masks. This is the heavy duty one we invested in from Bondi Air:

The mask itself is washable. The main features are a velvet outer (tends to shed droplets), a soft inner, but it is mostly blocked off in between, forcing you to draw air through the small vent. There is a five layer, specially designed pad behind the vent in a pouch. The site says that you can use the pad 40 times, then dispose of it. Pads cost around $2 each.

You do have to suck air a little using it, so people may find it exhausting if working long hours. So we also have disposable medical masks, like the one below:

They don’t frighten people as much, and you can talk better through them.

I’d have to say that Queensland is like it got halfway there, then it is like the virus went away, judging by public behaviour. My GP centre has good practice. They will bulk bill telemedicine calls. Scripts are sent electronically to the pharmacy of your choice. Some pharmacies deliver, usually with a charge. We call and collect at a pharmacy that is very open and accessible in layout, and has a protective panel at the desk.

If you need to see the doctor, you call from the car park, and wait your turn there. You are required to come masked, and will have been asked about COVID symptoms in the reminder text. When your turn comes, the masked doctor will meet you at the front door with a temperature check and hand sanitiser, so there is no waiting on the premises.

I’m amazed at how establishments, including many medical and paramedical-type establishments, have minimal precautions apart a sign and a container of hand sanitiser on the counter, some spacing of the seating, and a mark on the floor near the counter, which you have to step over to pay you bill.

Our Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, talks about masks roughly the same as her national colleagues – use them if you can’t distance yourself.

Unfortunately it may take a second wave before we join Victoria, where the CHO is saying he sees masks as part of the scene for the longer haul.

31 thoughts on “Could Queensland outbreak have been avoided?”

  1. I’m still not allowed by the software to see the stats, so I have no way of telling whether anyone has read this post.

    The main dashboard page does tell me that I’ve made 7500 comments on this blog, which means quite a lot.

    To the topic, Public health alerts [have been] issued for more than 40 sites across SEQ.

    Frankly, I will be amazed if the Wacol hotspot has not triggered new hotspots. We may have luck, but I’m thinking that our testing/tracing regime is not fit for purpose.

    I’ve been talking with my sister today, who is in a nursing home in a country town about 400km from here. They do have distancing, but she says it is often less than 1.5 m between residents, and the staff need to get close and personal with most residents.

    The attitude is “there is no virus here” and the staff never wear masks.

    Not good.

    The list of 40 places has dates and times. The official advice is:

      “Anyone who has been to the listed locations at the specified times should monitor their health and if they develop even the mildest of COVID-19 symptoms, get tested”.

    The CM today said that the 77 year-old became ill on Monday 10, which I think is incorrect, all the other reports pointing to Thursday 13 as the first symptomatic day.

    The CM also says that ‘case 2’, the worker from Marsden, also became ill on Monday 10.

    So I stand confused, but I’m not sure the health authorities know whether it passed from one to the other, or whether they both got it from some other source.

  2. Another Bahnisch family snap up there Brian?
    I mean the young lady with the light blue mask. ..

    So, Julian of Norwich was Julie?
    George Eliot. ….
    Free the lady writers!!

  3. Brian: “Our Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, talks about masks roughly the same as her national colleagues – use them if you can’t distance yourself.”
    Bloody hell Brian. Seems that, despite your praise. she is typical of the problem. Thinks all you need to do is use a few strategies at any one time and switch to something else if that hasn’t brought the problem under control. Thinks there is something magic about 1.5m. (It is nothing more than two arm lengths which is easy to measure. (By co-incidence, it is 76 mm from my nose to the tips of my finger when my arm is held out sideways.))
    To get things under control quickly a lot of things need to be done at the same time. You might want to put of highly economically or socially damaging but things like taking temperatures, face masks, lots of wiping down and, and need to be kept going until you are very sure.

  4. Ambi, not a family snap. Just stolen from the interwebs. If they complain I’ll have to take it down, but I think I do no harm to any living or recently dead artist.

    You may disagree.

    John, I used to think we were lucky to be in Qld, with Dr Young and QHealth looking out for us.

    Now I’m not so sure.

    She also said to get through this we’ll need a vaccine or a cure. I think we’ll need both, but that won’t give us snap-back. The world has changed forever.

  5. Nice snap; no harm done, Brian.

    Perhaps “snap back” needs to be given a rest.

    It may be that this new virus is so bl**dy contagious, that all of our lowish-level measures are just not up to the very difficult task of limiting case numbers. I was impressed by your CMO when I heard her speak (ABC News Radio) many months ago, after that beautician – recently returned from Iran – called in sick, went straight to hospital, and had assisted a few dozen customers a few days earlier. Qld was onto that one quick smart.

    Remember her?

    It’s many months ago; hundreds of deaths, etc. ad nauseam
    ad splutterum
    ad non breathum sum

    Crikey! Imagine how we would go with a really serious disaster (earthquake kills 25,000; volcano devastates five large towns; hurricane floods a major city; bushfires wipe out six towns killing 1200 people and injuring thousands; terrorists release radioactive or poisonous materials in a city; a virus deadlier than COVID…..)

    Then there’s Hiroshima/Nagasaki to remember.

  6. Ambi, I do remember the Gold Coast beautician returning from Iran. Generally Qld was ahead of the curve.

    For example the State Health Emergency Centre was activated weeks before the first case appeared. On January 29 Queensland declared a Public Health Emergency. Qld’s Disaster Management Committee met and Palaszczuk called for the need for national action.

    That was about a month before NSW and Victoria came to the party.

    Fever clinics attached to major hospitals were established, plans were made to free up hospital space, and plans were made to create even more hospital space at the show grounds if needed.

    Qld experiences frequent disasters from cyclones, supercell storms, also fires, but not so much as southern states, so there is a permanent disaster response structure.

    So it’s disappointing at this stage Dr Ford and troops seem to have fallen behind best practice.

    I have recently heard that while NSW had a better decentralised health structure to build contact tracing on, when they got the message they cleared three floors in a central building and set up a strong co-ordinating unit, which seems to have been successful, Ruby Princess aside.

  7. Brian: “John, I used to think we were lucky to be in Qld, with Dr Young and QHealth looking out for us.
    Now I’m not so sure.”
    My take is that she is being sucked into management problems that are not her area of expertise and/or not part of the job description that other people should be doing.
    For example a read a few days ago that she had agreed to extend the bubble south of Goondawindi after now Mayor of that town Lawrence Springboard had contacted her. Right decision but what happens south of the border is a management/political problem as well as a health problem. (Her job here is to comment on the health considerations, not manage the whole deal.)
    The border actions in our area smell of lousy politics, ignorance re Northern NSW and a failure to consult. Not a failing of Dr Young.

  8. Perhaps a Quincelander might assist…

    The name Lawrence Springborg is ringing southern bells (not Southern Belles).

    Is he now at a level more consistent with his abilities?

    • Is he now at a level more consistent with his abilities?

    Quite possibly. When he entered parliament I think he was the youngest ever to represent the Nationals. ‘The Borg’ is famous for bringing the two conservative parties together to form the LNP in 2008 with him the leader. They then promptly lost the 2009 election to Labor’s Anna Bligh, who destroyed herself by a program of privatisation which she had not put to the electors.

    The Borg went on the become deputy, as you can see here, before the Campbell Newman putsch.

    Deb Frecklington, if she is elected in October, will be the first conservative premier since Russell Cooper, who was premier for 73 days in 1989, before Wayne Goss ushered in the modern era.

    Other than Newman, we’ve had Rob Borbidge as the only conservative premier. As a National from Surfers Paradise, he was not from the bush. In by a whisker after a bi-election went bad for Labor, and lasted only 1996-98.

    So the Borg may have been unacceptable because he was from the bush.

    However, he was a bit average, and I think he’s a better fit with a town of 6,355 souls.

  9. John today I heard praise for Qld from Brian Littleproud, saying Qld had shown the way. So happy out west – maybe.

    Tonight I heard someone, can’t remember who, ScoMo or part of his bunch, I think say there had been copious consultations between health ministers, health officials etc.

    I’d have to agree, however, the wrong people are making the decisions.

    Brett Sutton in Victoria has been specific in saying that his role is not operational, but I’m not sure they have the structure right either.

    The President of the senate (a Liberal) said it was the Senate that decided whether they should meet, not the PM, and certainly not some state public servant (according to Laura Tingle).

  10. “Other than Newman we’ve had Rob Borbidge as the only conservative Premier”

    Since Wayne Goss?

    I thought there was a Kiwi Scandinavian Country Party bloke, Johannes or something?
    E. G. Whitlam, “He’s such a Bible-bashing chap!!”

  11. Brian: The key problem in Australia’s response to the virus has been the overview of the management of the crisis. We have had too many decisions being made by overstretched leaders, people being tasked for jobs they are not competent to do and important tasks simply not being done at all.
    In some cases like jobkeeper/jobseeker complicators with a pro employer bias have created an unfair system that took far too long to get in place.
    Technically there has been a failure to set up task forces to find out what the successful countries are doing and to monitor research results and consider the implications of these jobs to what should go on in Australia.
    Then there is the arrogant Qld border farce made without much sign of understanding what goes on south of the border and a perceived dismissal of the relevance of the impact of the rules imposed by Qld on the functioning of a key base hospital like the one at Lismore.
    We might admire the effort Andrews has put into dealing with the virus, but, he appears to have become so tired that he has become locked in to locking down without doing more things in parallel to help drive down the “N” factor faster.
    Being a grumpy old man who is out of the action can be a bit frustrating at times.

  12. The news today is no new COVID in Qld yesterday.

    So now in the Darra cluster there have been 5 workers and 5 rellies, but no further community transmission.

    At the same time we hear that quite a number of inmates (it was in the order of 70-90, my memory fails) left the detention centre during the infection period, destinations all over Qld. Not all of these have been tracked and tested.

    Genomic testing has shown that the Darra virus is in fact the same as the Logan incident involving the young women who brought it from Melbourne. However, they say there is a missing link, which has yet to be discovered.

    On masks, local radio talkback this morning indicates that a lot of people are preparing to have to wear masks, but so far they aren’t doing it.

    I think if a the Qld authorities had made it compulsory for everyone right now, there would have been widespread noncompliance.

    I think things will change rapidly if new clusters emerge.

  13. Weekly “It Could Be Worse” Bulletin.

    This is from ‘The Onion’ – America’s finest news source
    {black humour alert}

    CHARLOTTE, NC—Applauding the soon-to-be bereaved widows and orphans for their profound sacrifices, the Republican National Convention kicked off Monday evening with a tribute from family members of Americans who will die if Donald Trump wins a second term. “Above all else, we wanted to use the convention to honor these brave citizens and all that they will suffer if we succeed in getting President Trump back into office,” said RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, touting the primetime slot of brief speeches from the potentially beleaguered parents and siblings as a chance to raise the profile of “true patriots” who will endure the unimaginable should the policies of the current White House remain in place for four more years. “One of the most powerful moments of the night was the standing ovation for that mother of two after she talked about how much she’ll miss her two boys who might die due to the continued lack of any clear federal response to the largest pandemic in a century. But what really got me was hearing from the 12-year-old who might become fatherless in 2021 if his dad gets a chance to believe the president about another disproven cure for Covid-19.”

    Qld, NSW, even Victoria……
    simply cannot compete.

  14. Ambi, unbelievable!

    One new case in Qld yesterday, a close contact of one of the earlier infected.

    So, good news in the sense that no new cluster has emerged so far.

    Meanwhile authorities are nervous about the ‘missing link’. The last of the Logan infection that came via the young women from Melbourne was on 1 August.

    The new Wacol cluster began on 19 August.

    We heard that tests are now returned on average 30 hours, which seems good but is a bit on the slow side.

  15. There was one more case added to the cluster yesterday, a bloke who works in a detention centre training facility.

    They are now checking out the 25 contacts he has had during the infectious period.

    In my visit to the Qld Eye Centre today, it was chalk and cheese compared to a month ago. When I fronted, they said “That looks like a very good mask, but you must wear one of ours”.

    I was at the tail end of about 15 who saw the opthalmologist, because he habitually runs late.

    I reckon about 4 of 15 did not wear the mask they were given. No-one asked them to, or was checking them.


    The opthalmologist, being the senior medico there, was mask-less.

    Most but not all the staff were wearing masks.

  16. Not sure which thread to post this.

    Latest info is that Qld has two more cases yesterday, both linked to previous cases. However, one is a worker in an aged care facility in Laidley, a smallish town west of Ipswich. All recent community cases have now been traced to those three young women who lied about having been in Melbourne.

    Now here’s the thing.

    Cases have spread from near Ipswich to Pimpana at the northern end of the Gold Coast, and either a case or a contact in Toowoomba. Both of these happened because people were driving about an hour and a half or so to work every day.

    The two cases in Pimpana had visited supermarkets etc in their area, likewise in Towwomba.

    Toowoomba is a service centre for the whole area west of the ranges to Birdsville Near the SA border, with a teaching hospital, and is connected via routes up the inland way through Roma, Emerald, Longreach to Mt Isa. Now my sister, who is in Miles 2.5 hours drive from Toowoomba is caught up in the current restrictions, where she can’t have visitors, staff have to wear PPE etc.

    I was struck by Dan Andrews the other day talking about chains of transmission rather than hotspots. I’ll add potential in there, and I think that is what the Qld authorities are thinking about.

    Another interesting factor is that Qld in a project with QU has been monitoring sewers in tourist areas, and has found traces in Ayr, which for other state people is north of Mackay. Ayr is further from Brisbane (1250km) than Brisbane to Sydney (907km).

    Qld has put pop-up testing centres in the main tourist centres.

  17. A leading paragraph from “The Oz”

    The August unemployment rate has dropped to 6.8 per cent, thoroughly beating expectations.

  18. From Nine newspapers:

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday reported the national jobless rate dropped to 6.8 per cent from 7.5 per cent. Markets had been expecting an increase in unemployment to around 8 per cent.

  19. You see, us poor old Victorians in High Dray State can’t drag the rest of youse down, try though we might.

    Look, just go on prospering the rest of you, OK?

    Fine with us.
    We have the Peoples Republic of Belt and Road over here, with Chairman Dan expounding daily The Thought of Chairman Dan. Schools will re-open only when all Teachers and Students have not only memorized “The East is Red!” but have learnt to Love Chairman Dan.

    Running Dogs and Imperialists get pretty short shrift over here.

    Work will begin on The Great Wall of Victoria on our border as soon as sufficient Victorian Bluestone has been quarried. Drays are carting it to border towns, as we blog.


  20. Ambi: I can understand why the high dray riders want to break away from Aus. Taking their monopoly on AFL grand finals must have completely undermined their always vulnerable self esteem.
    Giving the AFL grand final to a Rugby League state like Qld would have really rubbed in their fall from grace.
    Hope for the health of your self esteem that the Melbourne Storm win the the NRL grand final. Or would this merely rub in further your fall from AFL grace?
    Signed: West Coast Supporter.

  21. Hello West Coast Supporter,

    Didn”t your lads come over to Melbourne (geographic centre of the Southern Hrmisohere) a few years ago and do rather well?

    It always puzzled me that a small town like Portland on Victoria’s west coast could field a team; but jolly good luck to you, I say.

    As to this Melbourne Storm, qu’est-ce que?? Is it a thunder and lightning sort of affair to6lling in over Port Phillip Bay? Or more of a nor-wester? Does the cold front pick up extra moisture over the Bight, to the south west of Border Town??

    We have Storm Warning Boys out there positioned on hills but their Semaphore skills aren’t the best, so the warnings sometimes don’t arrive . Yes, the more agile Boys always dodge the lightning strikes successfully.


  22. As to Self Rsteem.

    We have recently learnt of the advances made by Mr Stephenson with his new fangled “steam engine” and hope to see one the year after next.

    Perhaps you have misspelt ‘Steam’? ?

    Yes it begins with S.
    How quaint to emphasize your proficiency in spelling, by calling it S Steam.

  23. Ambi, high priest of the high dray riders VFL supporters: ” It always puzzled me that a small town like Portland on Victoria’s west coast could field a team; but jolly good luck to you, I say.”
    Your narrow vision babbling is having no effect on someone who has worked in every mainland state and became a West Coast supporter because, in WA, the match of the day was always the match that included the West Coast Eagles.
    You should have stuck with VFL instead of claiming Aus Rules was an Australian game.

  24. “in WA….”
    is that further away than Mount Gambier??

    But they say there are deserts out there. How will my dray horses survive?

  25. Ambi: “But they say there are deserts out there. How will my dray horses survive?” Where we lived in WA there were plenty of brumbies, camels and donkeys. Camels are good at hauling heavy wagons, stride along with their noses in the air like high dray riders and will spit in the eye of anyone who gives you lip.
    If you can ever find a copy of “Camels of the Outback” it is a highly recommended read.

  26. Thanks John.

    “Horses for courses”, eh?
    Of course!

    My load haulers are too used to cooler weather, frequent rain, green grass; and the cheerful cries of gutter urchins. My liad haulers can’t get past about Bendigo without beginning to wilt.

    Poor pets.

  27. Ambi: “My liad haulers can’t get past about Bendigo without beginning to wilt.” Time for a liad camel team mate. Don’t need many drink stops. Eat scrub. Good in soft sand.

  28. Camels it is then!!

    So long ago now, but when I served in the French Foreign Legion, the desert heat was formidable, and camels were ….. oh thank you, Nurse, is that the time already? I must have been napping.

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