March 06, 2020 14:49:51
Queensland Health authorities will run scenario tests today as COVID-19 preparations ramp up and retailers start to crack down on panic purchasing.
Fifteen emergency department staff from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital are in home quarantine after treating a university student who later tested positive for the virus.
Authorities said it was a precautionary move and the risk of the staff having contracted COVID-19 was low.
A 20-year-old University of Queensland student from China, who has since been hospitalised for COVID-19, was tested by the Mater’s emergency department.
A spokesperson for the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union described the home quarantine of Mater staff as “smart infection control”.
“It’s exactly to be expected, it’s following protocol to protect both the community and staff,” the spokesperson said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would not reveal specifics of the practice scenarios performed today, but said they were successful.
“In Queensland, the public can be reassured that we’ve done this planning when it comes to natural disasters and we’re doing doing exactly that type of planning for a possible outbreak of coronavirus,” she said.
“I’m very proud of the work today. There’s always things that need to be fixed. Everyone was responsive.”
She said the exercises included both a Brisbane-based scenario and a regional one.
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said although 80 per cent of people would get a mild case of the disease “they’d hardly know they have it” she said it was important they isolated themselves so as not to spread it to those who were more vulnerable.
“We know that older people who have chronic disease are the most vulnerable groups,” Dr Young said.
“Children are not more vulnerable to this, nor are pregnant women.”
Dr Young said around 2,700 people have so far been issued with voluntarily notices to self-isolate.
“It’s been a brilliant response and I have no concerns going forward,” she said.
Dr Young also praised the Mater Hospital for “doing the right thing” and organising 15 emergency department staff members to go into self-isolation for two weeks as a precaution.
“They just weren’t aware of this individual who was coming in so they didn’t use that personal protective equipment (PPE),” she said.
“They worked out who that patient came into contact with before they started using the PPE. They’ve got it well in hand”.
Ms Palaszczuk also welcomed the Prime Minister’s offer to split the cost of the coronavirus public health response with the states, but said he should have convened a COAG meeting on the specific topic of coronavirus.
“I’ve been asking for this since the end of January,” she said.
Toilet roll restrictions
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the “unusual and challenging times” with COVID-19 had prompted them to place limits on the sale of certain products.
It comes after supermarket shelves across the country were stripped of toilet paper and other items in recent days.
In an email to customers, Mr Banducci said they were placing “common-sense limits to a few products”.
“We’ve limited toilet paper to four packs per transaction and large packs of rice [2 kilograms or larger] to one per transaction,” he said.
“Where available, hand sanitiser is now at the customer service desk and limited to two per transaction.”
Mr Banducci said the supermarket chain would be monitoring the situation and could impose other restrictions as shortages arise.
“We’ll only do this if we think it’s absolutely necessary and to help make sure all customers can access the products they need,” he said.
The announcement came as Queensland Health confirmed two more people had tested positive to COVID-19, taking the total number of cases in Queensland to 13 with four cases emerging since Tuesday.
Today, Queensland authorities will consider scenarios for controlling and dealing with the spread of the virus.
The State Government said it would look at options for quarantine facilities and staffing levels to control the spread of the virus.
It is understood surgery lists have been increased to free up hospital capacity in coming months, and hospitals are stockpiling medicines and equipment.
What the experts are saying about coronavirus:
March 06, 2020 08:53:14
stories from Queensland