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Chain of concern: Six infected on flight, another in hotel quarantine

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A Gold Coast man caught COVID-19 from another traveller in hotel quarantine, and did not know he was infected until almost a fortnight after he left. He was the seventh in a cluster.

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Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young today said genome sequencing had revealed the man, who returned from a China trip earlier this month, had the same strain of virus as a traveller who was staying across the corridor from him in Brisbane’s Amora Hotel.

The other traveller had flown back from South Africa, via Doha, on a flight linked to five other cases in travellers quarantined in multiple hotels. It is not known whether any of those travellers carried the virus onto the flight.

“There are now seven people in that cluster,” Young said.

The Gold Coast man had been given the all-clear to leave hotel quarantine on July 12, and was not formally registered as a COVID-19 case until July 25 after tests several days earlier.

Authorities are examining CCTV footage from the hotel to determine how the virus was transmitted, and suspect doors may have opened at a similar time. People who were in the hotel during the period will be contacted and ordered to isolate again and get tested.

Young said the man was fully vaccinated and she believed the risk of him infecting others was low. His family members have so far tested negative.

She was more concerned by the risks posed by a Brisbane-based flight attendant who collected an infected man from Ballina. He had left the Sydney lockdown, and should have been in isolation instead of visiting numerous locations on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane while infectious.

Young said she was “very, very worried” they potentially exposed people in south-east Queensland to the Delta variant.

“It is far too early for any of us to relax,” Young said, in relation to the risk they have spread the Delta variant in the community.

The pair also undermined contact tracing efforts, prompting police to order them to submit to a formal interview. An investigation into their alleged breaches of public health directions will be finalised later today.

No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Queensland today.

As other states move to ease restrictions, Young is monitoring the ongoing Sydney outbreak but has taken some comfort in the lack of new cases in regional areas, and no red flags from sewage testing.

“We do need our lives to continue so we manage that, balancing the risks very carefully,” she said.

Queensland is yet to determine whether, or when, restrictions on interstate travel will change. The mandate on masks in south-east Queensland is due to be lifted on Friday.

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