Staff at Gold Coast nursing home Tricare at Mermaid Beach will receive rushed coronavirus vaccinations today after the tradie, who was an entertainer at a hen’s party in Byron Bay attended by two Brisbane women carrying the coronavirus, returned to his day job refurbishing the nursing home on Monday.
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said staff were to be urgently vaccinated today, while every resident in the aged care facility had already received their first coronavirus vaccine jab.
“I haven’t got confirmation about whether any have received their second dose,” Young said.
“We’re working with the Commonwealth to respond to that aged care facility.”
The contractor involved in the refurbishments has tested positive to the virus. He was among five cases in one of two clusters totalling eight new cases detected in the state overnight.
The contractor left the nursing home immediately after he was notified of being a close contact to a confirmed case, the facility told residents and families.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the department was aware of two venues the pair had checked into in Byron Bay while in the town from Friday, 26 March to Sunday, 28 March. The two women then returned to Queensland.
NSW Health said the two women checked in at the Byron Bay Hotel on Friday night and The Farm on Sunday morning.
The department is urging anyone who visited the venues around certain times to get tested immediately and self-isolate, until further advice is issued.
Many frontline health and aged care workers are still waiting for their vaccinations across Australia.
Amid criticism of the vaccine’s slow rollout, Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan said Queensland Health was working hard to get the jab to healthcare workers as quickly as possible.
She conceded the task could take several more weeks.
The Morrison government is aiming for everyone who wants to have the vaccine to receive their first dose by October, far short of initial targets.
Vulnerable people in aged care are another concern across Australia but Professor McMillan said supply had now increased and 89,000 had been vaccinated.
“There is a large population of aged care residents,” she said.
“We’ll continue to see more and more done in the coming weeks, particularly now that we’ve got the domestic supply as well of the vaccine rollout both to aged care residents and aged care staff.”
More than 541,000 Australians have received their first COVID-19 vaccines, including 259,000 in the past week.
Greater Brisbane entered lockdown on Monday afternoon after seven community cases were detected, including two health workers.
Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, the ACT and Northern Territory have all moved to restrict or outright ban incoming travel from Brisbane and the state over the growing cluster.
The NSW border remains open, although Premier Gladys Berejiklian has asked residents eyeing a trip north over Easter to change their plans.
It’s also a double blow for many thousands of non-essential hospitality and tourism companies ordered to close just a day after the federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme ended.
“It does make you wonder when the government says that we’re ‘not in a race’ for vaccination,” Labor MP Andrew Leigh said.
“It absolutely ought to be treated as a race. The government ought to be sprinting.”
He says Australia remains about 90th in the world in vaccine rollouts per capita and a third of Queensland businesses are close to hitting the wall.
The cluster has been linked to a nurse and her sister who travelled to Byron Bay from Queensland for the bachelorette party.
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