Concerns fruit picker in Bundaberg with coronavirus knew he was at risk before travelling

Queensland’s top health official says she is concerned the state’s latest confirmed coronavirus case knew he may have been in contact with an infected person before travelling from interstate to pick strawberries.

Key points:

  • The man may have known he spent time with a confirmed case in Melbourne
  • Queensland’s Chief Health Officer says he shouldn’t have travelled if he was aware of the infection
  • Tourism operators don’t expect the case will deter people visiting the region

The Department of Health confirmed a 24-year-old Victorian man tested positive to COVID-19 after travelling to Bundaberg from Melbourne via Brisbane.

The man had stayed with friends in Brisbane and was living and working with other strawberry pickers at SSS Strawberries prior to his diagnosis, prompting a broad public health alert.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said it was still not certain whether the man was aware he had been in contact with another confirmed case in Victoria.

“I am a bit concerned that he knew he was possibly in contact with a known case in Melbourne — we are still not sure,” Dr Young said.

“If he did know, he really should not have come to Queensland.”

Queensland Health said 174 tests of close contacts from the weekend had returned negative results.

Direct travel priority for backpackers

The man entered Queensland under exemptions for essential workers, but Dr Young said the restrictions were working and the farm’s owners had done everything right.

“We are looking at the exemption process, because seasonal workers should travel direct from one place to another. They’re not supposed to stop,” she said.

“We know the incubation period is 14 days, and if you tested people on entry to Queensland you would know at that point they are negative, but they could cause a lot of transmission.

“It’s the 24 hours before you get symptoms that you are most contagious, and that might be why we are not seeing large numbers of cases from this particular gentleman who came to Bundaberg because he was in Melbourne at that time.”

Queensland's Chief Health officer Dr Jeannette Young speaks at a press conference at Parliament House in Brisbane
Jeannette Young says the system has worked well despite the latest case.(AAP: Darren England)

Tourism industry forging ahead

Bundaberg Tourism chief executive Katherine Reid said operators were moving ahead with reopening and did not expect the case to have a significant impact on the number of tourists visiting the region.

“We’re confident that health workers got onto it quickly, there’s contact tracing happening and there have been no further cases,” she said.

“We’re moving forward with our messaging that the Bundaberg tourism and hospitality industry are good to go with COVID-safe practices in place and they’re ready to welcome people back.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow

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