Covid 19 coronavirus: Lockdown decision pending for Queensland

A decision on whether Brisbane will face an extended lockdown is expected this morning after Queensland recorded three new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, with two of those acquired through local transmission.

Experts had widely predicted the Greater Brisbane lockdown would be extended past the Thursday evening deadline but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described the low figure on Wednesday as a “fantastic” result.

The minimal transmission comes as the premier and health authorities are due to decide on a possible extension of the lockdown this morning.

“The fact we do not have any unlinked community transmission in the southeast or in our state is absolutely encouraging news,” Palaszczuk told reporters.

“We are doing a great job and together we will get through this.”

Chief health officer Jeannette Young said the two new cases were linked to the second cluster at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, with another nurse infected and the other a roommate of a known infected case.

She said the low number of new cases was a positive but warned it was “only one day of encouraging results”.

“We need to get more results from today, so it is absolutely extremely important that anyone with any symptoms gets tested,” Young said.

This sentiment was echoed by the premier who insisted a decision on the lockdown won’t be made until Thursday morning.

“Fingers crossed, all will be looking good for Easter,” Palaszczuk told reporters yesterday.

“But like I’ve said, it depends on the testing rates again, so if we see very good testing rates across Queensland and we don’t see any underlying community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Wednesday’s case numbers were lower than anticipated and praised contact tracers in the state and around the country.

But while he called it a “positive step”, he warned the clusters were “still a significant concern”.

“It’s still a Commonwealth hotspot and that as a consequence of that we know that there are risks. But Queenslanders are stepping up to be tested,” he said.

“We are seeing very strong results and a very low number of positive cases which were, in any event, directly connected with the existing cluster.”

University of South Australia’s leading epidemiologist, professor Adrian Esterman, warned the case numbers on Wednesday were “crucial” to containing the outbreak, insisting the situation in Brisbane would “get worse before it gets better”.

“[Queensland Health] has to assume it’s out there … They have to do everything they can to make sure it doesn’t go any further,” he said.

But Professor Peter Collignon, another infectious disease expert at the Australian National University, said the “really critical thing” is whether the new cases are known and already in isolation or not.

“In other words, cases in the community that are not linked,” he told 7NEWS show Sunrise.

“They are people that are not in quarantine.

“If all the cases you find — as is often the case in the last outbreaks we have had in Melbourne, Sydney — if they’re all in quarantine, then extending a lockdown for everybody doesn’t help much.

“But if you actually find mystery cases, unlinked cases, that is when there is a need to continue the lockdown.”

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