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Latest community virus case 'out and about' - hundreds may have been exposed

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A Brisbane man was infectious in the community for days – at shopping centres, a restaurant, takeaway outlets and a Bunnings – without realising he had COVID-19. How he caught it remains a mystery.

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Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young today revealed the 26-year-old was tested twice overnight, to confirm the first community-acquired case of COVID-19 in Brisbane in weeks. She is still investigating how he might have been infected.

While contact tracing has begun, and a public health alert issued for a range of venues, hundreds of people could potentially have been exposed to the virus in different parts of greater Brisbane. Authorities have banned visitors at hospitals, aged care and disability services facilities and prisons in Brisbane and the Moreton Bay region from midday.

“He’s a young man who’s been out and about in his normal life so, yes, I’m sure he’s had contact with a lot of people,” Young said.

“And I don’t know where he’s got it from and that person he’s got it from could also be out and about in our community spreading the infection.”

The man lives with flatmates at Stafford – they are now in isolation, while he is in quarantine in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital – and last Saturday morning shopped at Carindale shopping centre and that night bought ice-cream at Everton Park’s Baskin-Robbins store.

On Sunday, the man went to a food market at Newstead, and then had lunch at Mamma’s Italian Waterfront Restaurant at Redcliffe.

On Monday, he worked as a landscaper at Paddington, went through Guzman Y Gomez drive-through at Stafford for lunch, and then visited the local Bunnings. That was the day he developed symptoms.

The man stayed home sick until Thursday when he went for testing at Nundah – after briefly visiting the Aldi in Stafford shopping centre – before the alarm was raised last night.

Young said anyone who had been at those venues around the same time as the man should get tested regardless of whether they have any symptoms. She urged other Brisbane residents to get tested if they experience any symptoms over the next 14 days.

“We don’t know where this virus is next going to pop up,” Young said.

Young said the man had not been overseas in the relevant period and genome sequencing would help determine the variant involved. She would not speculate on where or how he may have been infected. The last community-acquired cases leaked out of hotel quarantine.

Overnight, another six cases were detected in hotel quarantine, including three returned travellers from Papua New Guinea. There are now 69 active cases in Queensland, and the health system is under unprecedented pressure.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the ongoing surge in cases from Papua New Guinea, taking up more beds in Queensland hospitals, was a “really serious issue” that would require further talks with the Morrison Government.

As Young confirmed other public health measures would remain unchanged for now, Palaszczuk implored Queenslanders to follow the health advice. Any further cases might see a community crackdown – with the Easter long weekend only a week away.

“People are not social distancing, we really need people to social distance,” Palaszczuk said.

Palaszczuk called on people to stop shaking hands.

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