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Townsville and north Qld record no cases but struggle with virus testing

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Townsville and its surrounding islands have recorded zero cases of COVID-19 after an infectious receptionist at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane visited areas of the region.

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Queensland recorded three new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with one linked to the clerical worker from the Prince Charles Hospital.

The brother of the woman has also contracted the highly contagious Delta strain.

But Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young says her concern for Palm Island off Townsville has dropped, as the family of the woman never left their vehicle when travelling by barge to Magnetic Island.

Townsville residents have reportedly had to wait up to seven hours for a COVID test, an issue that the city’s Mayor, Jenny Hill, says should be addressed by the government.

“The hospital is placing a testing facility specifically on Magnetic Island for all the residents there … so they will be I believe, a priority in terms of testing,” she told the ABC.

Lines of cars waiting for testing at 1300 Smiles stadium stretched for kilometres on Wednesday morning before the Government announced it would move to address the delays.

On Wednesday, Magnetic Island Ferries confirmed to AAP that all staff onboard a ferry carrying the woman and her family had returned negative tests.

Roughly 50-60 people were on board the vessel last Thursday and General Manager Angus Campbell confirmed none of the travellers left their vehicles.

He also noted Magnetic Island Ferries may extend services to accommodate a rush of residents returning to the island and the mainland amidst a three day lockdown in the region.

Young reiterated calls on Wednesday for residents to get tested regardless of showing symptoms and to remain in their residences for the duration of the lockdown.

No fines or breaches of lockdown have been administered by Townsville Police and chief superintendent Craig Hanlon praised the communities swift response to the measures.

“Everyone’s supportive and understands why the restrictions are in place, and after our conversations have complied restrictions,” he said on Wednesday.

“We’re very happy with the community of Townsville, we’ve done it before, we all put on our masks, we all comply with the restrictions, and so far the majority of people from Townsville, Palm Island and Magnetic Island are doing exactly that.”

Meanwhile, North Queensland Cowboys coach Todd Payten has been forced into isolation after attending the Flinder’s street markets on Sunday, their CEO Jeff Reibel says.

Payten then attended scheduled training with his squad on Monday before information on the known COVID-19 case in Townsville was announced.

“Our training was cancelled today (Wednesday) after a member of our Apollo Register was deemed to have come in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, at the Townsville markets on Sunday,” Reibel said.

“Todd underwent COVID-19 tests yesterday and is currently in isolation awaiting the result. We’ve also been instructed Todd will need to remain in isolation for a 14 day period backdated to Sunday.”

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