Gladys ‘concerned’ about Brisbane hotel, UK virus strain

NSW health authorities have worked through the night to track down anyone linked to a “concerning” coronavirus cluster at a Brisbane hotel quarantine facility.

NSW Health announced late on Wednesday night that anyone in the state who had quarantined at the Hotel Grand Chancellor since December 30 needed to contact them and undergo another 14 days quarantine.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she strongly supported tracking down anyone who may have been exposed to the strain as she works alongside other leaders to “keep the virus out of the Australian community”.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday announced the 129 guests currently quarantining at the Hotel Grand Chancellor would be made to undergo an extra 14 days of isolation. In addition, the 250 people released from the facility since December 30 and the 226 staff who worked since that date would also be made to undergo two weeks isolation.

It comes after it was revealed six people had contracted the highly contagious UK variant of COVID-19 at the hotel. Authorities say there are no clear links between the cases, but four cases were housed on the same level at the hotel where the cleaner – the fifth case – worked. Her partner later tested positive.

Ms Berejiklian told ABC Breakfast on Thursday the situation was “cause for concern”.

“The virus is so contagious that not getting on top of one case can be a concern,” she said.

“When you have a more contagious strain of course it causes concern … but every day in the pandemic is a battle.

“The best way to get on top of this, or any concern we have about an outbreak, is to make sure we all respond.”

Ms Berejiklian said she also “strongly supported” NSW halving its quarantine capacity for the next month as health authorities grapple to understand the new strain of COVID-19.

“We’re concerned about it seeping into the community,” she said.

“We know (reducing from 3000 to 1500 arrivals a week) will cause hardship to some family and loved ones who are waiting to come home, but what we need to do is take a breath over the next month to learn what the new strains of the virus are doing.

“This particular strain, the UK strain, is already in over 30 countries. It’s not just one country we need to worry about.

“We have to be extra vigilant. We have to take the time to learn.”

While Queensland Police and health authorities work to determine how the virus spread through the hotel and potentially into the community, Ms Berejiklian said she wanted to ensure the hotel quarantine system was as tight as possible.

“The authorities are trying to get to the bottom of (the Hotel Grand Chancellor), but we also need to give them time,” she said.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it can take days or weeks to get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, we need to make sure we prevent the virus getting out into the community.

“That’s what’s important, to stop the spread.”

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