New case details boost hopes for mask-free Friday
Queensland has recorded three new COVID-19 cases overnight, keeping hopes the state will be mask-free from Friday on track, as health officials grow increasingly confident the mutant UK strain is not spreading through Greater Brisbane.
All three cases are in hotel quarantine and all were acquired overseas.
Two were female flight crew who had departed Australia prior to their results becoming available.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said all flight crew were being tested when they arrived into Queensland.
She said all three new Queensland infections were in hotel quarantine when they were tested.
She said during the past few weeks, the majority of people returning to Queensland from the UK had the highly contagious new UK variant, dubbed B117.
Dr Young urged anyone with any symptoms to immediately come forward for testing.
"It's so critical that we find people as soon as possible," she said.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said anyone going out for testing today should check the Queensland Health website to ensure the sites are still open amid the wet weather.
Quensland Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said a person at Capalaba had been charged after refusing to wear a mask on Monday.
Restrictions lingering from the lockdown of 2.5 million residents earlier this month are on schedule to be lifted at 1am on Friday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed.
Queensland has not recorded a community case of COVID-19 since January 7 when a cleaner at Hotel Grand Chancellor tested positive to the highly contagious UK strain.
Ms Palaszczuk said restrictions implemented across Greater Brisbane, including mandatory wearing of masks indoors and on public transport, gathering and patron limits, are set to be lifted after 10 days of no community cases.
"If we keep this track happening now it's more than likely all of those restrictions will be removed," she said.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, however, said it would be a few more days before she was totally confident the UK strain had not spread through the community.
The Hotel Grand Chancellor cluster remains at six cases.
Dr Young also revealed Queensland's border to Greater Sydney would remain closed until the end of the month, when a review of the declared hotspot was scheduled.
She said the hotspot declaration would not be removed until all unlinked cases had been linked.
"If you go onto their own website (NSW) they say they have nine unlinked cases in the last week," she said.
Across Queensland 5173 COVID-19 tests were undertaken in the past 24 hours.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said 864 tests of contacts of people involved in the Grand Chancellor cluster had been performed, with no more cases recorded.
Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski praised Queenslanders' ongoing compliance with the restrictions, with no fines issued in the past 24 hours and only 28 masks handed out by officers.
"We're not seeing any complacency which is extremely encouraging," he said.
Mr Gollschewski said 40 people were away from Queensland's borders in the past 24 hours.
Victoria and South Australia on Sunday opened back up to the region following earlier concern the UK strain linked to the hotel could spread nationally.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt praised the Queensland Government, medical workers, pathologists and the Queensland community for their extraordinary response, which meant the hotspot designation could be lifted.
This week business and industry leaders backed Qantas boss Alan Joyce in demanding an end to border wars crippling Australia's economy and keeping families apart.
New Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka likened Australia to a collection of foreign countries, but acknowledged public health must remain the first priority.
Originally published as Hold your breath for a mask-free Friday