No public health alert after COVID-19 positive miner's death


UPDATE: NO information has emerged to suggest that a public health alert was warranted for Blackwater as the investigation continues into the death of a 30-year-old miner who subsequently tested positive to COVID-19.

A Queensland Health spokesperson addressed community concerns regarding a COVID-19 infected Rockhampton nurse's visit to Blackwater just days before she tested positive to the virus. 

"Contact tracing information provided to Queensland Health for the Central Queensland case identified on May 14 was that the individual travelled to Blackwater in the second week of May but did not interact with other individuals there," the spokesperson said. 

"Information provided to Queensland Health about the case identified today indicated the man had respiratory symptoms since the first week of May.

"We want to assure residents of Blackwater that their safety is our top priority. The health and safety of every Queenslander has guided all our decisions during this pandemic."

The spokesperson said if their contact tracing efforts identified any risk to the broader community or they didn't believe they could identify potential contacts, they would issue a public health alert.

"To date, Queensland Health has not been provided any information that warrants a public health alert for Blackwater," they said.

"But we've told all Queenslanders, and residents of Central Queensland specifically, that if they have any symptoms they should come forward and be tested.

"At this time, no evidence has been provided to Queensland Health that links the two cases. But we will continue to assess all information relevant to any case.

"Queensland Health can confirm the partner of the deceased man is in isolation but has not been admitted to hospital."

UPDATE: 3.30PM: CONDOLENCES have been expressed and difficult questions asked following the death of a 30-year-old Blackwater man, who subsequently tested positive to COVID-19. 

The man was understood to have worked at the Jellinbah mine, near Bluff, about 20km east of Blackwater, but had not been on site since November last year.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said her thoughts were with the friends and loved ones of the man from Blackwater who tragically passed away.

After reports surfaced suggesting the infected Rockhampton nurse travelled to Blackwater before she tested positive to COVID-19, Ms Bates questioned why the government had not warned the people of Blackwater. 

"The people of Blackwater had a right to know that a person infected with COVID had been in their town," Ms Bates said.

"This should not have been kept secret. Instead of referring the nurse to the CCC, Labor should have informed the public and rolled out more testing to the impacted communities.

"The Palaszczuk Government need to start treating Queenslanders like adults."

She said the Blackwater community deserved answers and Annastacia Palaszczuk needed to be open and accountable.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said any death from COVID-19 was a terrible loss and their thoughts went out to the miner's family and friends.

"The Union is continuing to work with members and mining companies to make sure mining workforces and communities are safe at work and at home," Mr Smyth said. 

"We are urging all our members to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices, get tested in a fever clinic if they have any respiratory symptoms and continue to follow all advice from the Chief Health Officer.

"This is a sad reminder that we can't afford to be complacent about the threat posed by COVID-19 and we all need to maintain our vigilance."

UPDATE 10.45AM: IT HAS been confirmed the man with COVID-19 who died at Blackwater was a miner. 

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga confirmed the detail in a Facebook live video this morning, however noted he had not been to work since November. 

"Whilst we don't know yet whether the cause of death was COVID-19, it may well have been another underlying medical condition, which I understand this man a few. He had a complex medical history," she said. 

"My deepest sympathy and condolences go to the miner who lived in Blackwater and his family who have sadly lost a father and uncle, a nephew and a friend who was no doubt much loved by his family.

"I'm sure that we will be receiving more information as test results come back and the contact tracing work gets underway. This only happened yesterday afternoon.

"Today is a sad day for Central Queensland and indeed a sad day for Blackwater - our thoughts are with you."

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga believes the Federal Government are planning to take recreational land during the Stage Bay/Shoalwater upgrades
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga has expressed her condolences to the people of Blackwater after the sad passing of a 30-year-old miner. Trish Bowman

UPDATE 10.15AM: A MAN who died of coronavirus in Blackwater had not been to work since November, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga has confirmed.

Ms Lauga revealed the man had underlying health conditions and was tested for coronavirus as part of an autopsy after his death yesterday.

"He passed away yesterday and has tested positive for coronavirus as part of the autopsy," Ms Lauga said.

"The COVID-19 test came back positive, the test was undertaken after he passed away.

"It's a tragic case and I firstly just want to offer my condolences to his family and friends who would no doubt be very shocked about having lost a loved one.

"He also had underlying medical conditions but also he hadn't been at work since November so there is no serious cause of concern for people that he might have worked with."

Ms Lauga said the man's partner had been tested and that test had come back negative, but she will undergo further testing.

"His partner has been tested and that test has come back negative but the Chief Health Officer has said that we do need to test his partner again and no doubt she is dealing with the tragedy and the emotions and the sadness of having lost her partner," she said.

"She will be tested a second time. I understand that this gentleman had been ill for a while but hadn't been tested for COVID-19."

Ms Lauga urged residents in the CQ area to get tested if they are unwell. It is understood fever clinics are being set up in Blackwater and Emerald.

"It is really important, as outlined by the Chief Health Officer and the Premier today that anyone in Blackwater that is experiencing any kind of symptoms, respiratory symptoms to please go an be tested," she said.

"It is critically important that people stay at home and go and be tested if you are experiencing any of those symptoms."

She said it was unknown where the man caught the virus.

"We don't know yet where this man had acquired the virus and the contact tracers are working madly to find a source of transmission but also to contact those people who may have had close contact with him," Ms Lauga said.

"I understand that he had minimal contact out in the community because he had been staying at home while he was ill and experiencing those symptoms.

"The contact tracers are working to identify those close contacts and make sure that they go in for testing but also that they go into isolation until those results come back."

INITIAL: IN A devastating blow for the small CQ town of Blackwater, a 30-year-old man has died of COVID-19 - Queensland's seventh recorded death and the youngest in Australia.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed news of the "unfolding situation" at a press conference this morning saying the diagnosis only occurred after the man's death last night.

Ms Palaszczuk said the man was showing symptoms prior to his death, but also had other health issues.

His partner is also reportedly unwell and experiencing symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection.

The ambulance officers who attended the scene are now quarantine.

Health authorities are concerned about the origin of the infection given there had been no prior cases of COVID in Blackwater.

A Blackwater source said that the man had been ill for a number of weeks .

He said several members of the community that had been attending the house to visit the man were now in isolation.

He said family members from the home were also now isolation.

Health Minister Steven Miles said the man had complicated medical history and had been unwell for some time.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles at a press conference held at the Mackay Base Hospital. Picture: Tony Martin
Queensland Health Minister Steve Miles is urging anyone in Blackwater experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to get tested. Tony Martin

"We urge anyone, anyone in Queensland, but particularly anyone in Blackwater who is suffering symptoms to please go and get tested," Mr Miles said.

"This message is particularly important for all the blokes out there.

"I know that men sometimes fob off their illness, they don't go and get medical assistance, but it's incredibly important right now that anyone with symptoms goes and gets tested."

While the man's partner has initially returned a negative test, Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young said she would be tested again and was in isolation.

Dr Young said the man had not left Blackwater since February and had not been overseas.

She said it was believed he had been at home for most of the time he was ill.

Responding to the man's death, CQ Health said they were establishing a fever clinic in Blackwater tomorrow to support residents but in the meantime, they could get tested at Blackwater Hospital today.

The Blackwater Hospital.
Photo Contributed
Blackwater residents are urged to get tested today at Blackwater Hospital if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Contributed

"Anyone with any flu-like symptoms - fever (or history of fever), respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath) - is urged to have a COVID-19 test," CQ Health said.

"A fever clinic will be established at the Blackwater Rodeo Grounds tomorrow May 28, from 8.00am. Please call 4920 5800 (6am-6pm) to book an appointment."

Testing is also available at nearby Emerald's fever clinic at the Emerald Medical Group, Lot 1, Pilot Farm Rd. Call 4986 7400 to book an appointment. 

CQ Health said anyone tested should remain in isolation until they get a negative result and their symptoms have resolved for 24 hours.

"CQ Health has established an Incident Management Team to oversee the response. Our aim, as always, is to mitigate the spread and effect and support the facility and the community during recovery," they said.

"Contact tracing is underway, and any close contact will be directed to quarantine."

Information on testing and clinic location visit