Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young told reporters the man was showing symptoms for several weeks, and tested positive to the virus after his death.
She said the man’s partner returned home from work at 4:30pm yesterday and found him unresponsive. He died a short time later.
Young said the man had a “complicated” medical history.
She said it is not known how he contracted the virus but he has become the “youngest” victim in Australia.
His partner is now sick and has been taken to Rockhampton Hospital, but is understood to have tested negative for the virus.
Police and ambulance were called to the home in Blackwater on Tuesday afternoon, where the man’s partner had found him unresponsive after returning home from work.
The police and ambulance officers who attended the scene are also now in quarantine.
Authorities are investigating whether the virus or the man’s other known illnesses caused his death.
The fatality brings the state’s coronavirus death toll to seven, with a total of 1058 cases.
The town has a population of about 4500 people. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was thought the man had been home for most of the time he was ill and had not travelled outside Blackwater since February.
“We need to make sure that people with any flu-like symptoms are coming forward and getting tested,” she said.
“It’s a timely reminder too for all Queenslanders that this COVID is real, it’s out there.
“Blackwater has never had a case of COVID before.
“Contact tracing is extensively under way.
“The police and ambulance officers who attended the scene are also now in quarantine.”
Health Minister Steven Miles said extra testing capacity was being set up in the regional town for people to be examined.
“It appears that this gentleman who has passed away was ill for some time and did not get tested,” he said.
“I know that men sometimes fob off their illnesses – they don’t go and get medical assistance – but it’s incredibly important right now that anyone with symptoms goes and gets tested.”
A team of public health experts and additional contact tracing resources have been deployed from Brisbane to Blackwater to track the possible source of the virus, with testing available at Blackwater Hospital from Wednesday.
A fever clinic also will be established at the Blackwater Rodeo Grounds from 8:00am on Thursday.
“I have four planes on the ground two in Townsville and two in Brisbane that we can use to go and get anyone who’s a confirmed case and move them to Rockhampton or to Brisbane,” Young added.
The victim has not worked since November and has not left the central Queensland town since February, raising the question of how he became infected.
Central Highlands Mayor Kerry Hayes told AAP workers that commute from other central Queensland communities or from outside the region could have brought the virus into Blackwater.
The case is not the first in Central Queensland however, with an aged care nurse testing positive in Rockhampton earlier this month.
“It’s a timely reminder for all Queenslanders that this COVID is real, it’s out there, and it has impacts on Queenslanders and in this case, we have lost another Queenslander today,” Miles said.
-AAP, additional reporting by ABCJump to next article