Scramble to secure suburbs in virus’ shadow

 

QUEENSLANDERS from at least 11 suburbs are under a shadow after it was revealed the state's latest case of COVID-19 visited a busy shopping centre, multiple restaurants, retailers and a basketball court after contracting the virus.

The 27-year-old man became the state's first case of COVID-19 community transmission since May when he dined at a Sunnybank restaurant on July 23 just metres from a woman who caught the virus after she travelled to Melbourne and allegedly lied to authorities about where she had been.

The Bellbird Park man visited suburbs spanning from Chandler to Springfield Lakes - including two separate Bunnings and Garden City shopping Centre at Mount Gravatt - while infectious between July 27-28.

Bunnings at Oxley was one of the locations visited by the Bellbird Park man. File picture
Bunnings at Oxley was one of the locations visited by the Bellbird Park man. File picture

Queensland Health issued an urgent plea late on Friday night for anyone who had visited the locations at specific times to monitor their health closely and immediately present for testing if experiencing any relevant symptoms.

The suburbs impacted include; Kenmore, Wacol, Oxley, Mt Gravatt, Springfield, Springfield Lakes, Richlands, Forest Lake, Chandler, Goodna and Redbank Plains.

The man is the state's first case of COVID-19 community transmission since May, sending a nursing home into lockdown amid fears Queensland is headed for a second wave of the pandemic.

Two aged care workers at the same table as the man returned negative test results late on Friday after working a combined 11 shifts at the Bolton Clarke Aged Care facility in Pinjarra Hills, before they were told to self-isolate and the facility was put into lockdown. A third worker at the home, who is a close contact of the other two but was not at the restaurant, was awaiting test results on Friday night.

In a day of drama as the state desperately tried to contain the virus, it can be revealed a woman with suspected links to the trio who sparked the crisis - 19-year-old Olivia Winnie Muranga and 21-year-olds Diana Lasu and Haja Timbo - was pulled off a plane and quarantined.

Westfield Garden City Shopping Centre at Mt Gravatt has been included in a public health alert. File picture
Westfield Garden City Shopping Centre at Mt Gravatt has been included in a public health alert. File picture

There were fears the woman, who flew from Brisbane to Darwin, had links to Lasu and Muranga, who have contracted the virus.

It is also understood stolen credit cards were used at Flight Centre to book plane tickets home for the women from Melbourne.

Tasmania and the Northern Territory are now banning Queenslanders from so-called 'hot spots' following the positive cases.

Anywhere visited by the three women has now been deemed an 'affected' premises by the Tasmanian Government, with anyone who has visited those premises now banned from entering the state

It comes after the Northern Territory's Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie declared Queensland regions of Greater Brisbane, Ipswich and Logan as hot spots.

From midnight last night the City of Brisbane, City of Ipswich and Logan City council areas will be active hot spots.

It comes as police have revealed a separate criminal investigation is under way that is "unrelated and not connected to the alleged travel to Victoria".

The aged care workers and the Bellbird Park man were at the table adjacent to one of the women at Madtongsan IV Restaurant on July 23. They isolated when the public health warning broke on July 28.

"Both took immediate action to undergo testing and self-isolate when they became aware they had been at one of the restaurants identified in health alerts," Bolton Clarke chief operating officer David Swain said.

Haja Timbo has been identified as the third person who travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane recently.
Haja Timbo has been identified as the third person who travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane recently.

It comes as Victoria recorded 627 cases and eight deaths, with Premier Daniel Andrews flagging further restrictions amid concerning numbers. NSW reported another 21 cases. Queensland conducted more than 10,000 tests on Friday, and there were no further positive results.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said an updated list of places visited by one of the women wasn't being released as she had "mainly stayed at home". Dr Young said she trusted that information.

"We have excellent police who have done a really good job all through this, we know police are very good at interviewing people who don't necessarily want to tell the truth and we've checked that with supporting information from other travel companions so we're pretty comfortable," she said.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said police were confident they had all the information about where the three women had been.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was very comfortable with the rapid response undertaken since the women had returned to Queensland.

Muranga and Lasu hosted an illegal Airbnb party at a Melbourne apartment, while the virus-riddled city was in hard lockdown, two days before allegedly lying to get back into Queensland. On returning on July 21 via Sydney, the three Brisbane women allegedly lied about having been to Melbourne.

Under the Chief Health Officer's public health directions, Queensland residents returning from Victoria must enter hotel quarantine for 14 days and they have all been charged with providing false or misleading documents and fraud.

The Courier-Mail contacted Timbo, who is quarantined in an inner-city hotel but has not tested positive for the virus, and offered her an opportunity to tell her side of the story. "No, but half of the things that are in the media aren't true, so what can you do," she said.

Timbo declined to correct the record.

"I want everything to be confidential. I don't want to be in the media or my friends to be in the media," she said.

A relative of Lasu confirmed family members, who are also confined to a Brisbane hotel, had tested negative to coronavirus, but declined to comment further.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll called out the racist behaviour towards the women at a press conference.

"We have seen community members making comments about certain cultural groups and ethnicities," she said.

"This is not productive at all."

Originally published as Scramble to secure suburbs in virus' shadow



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