Queensland Chief Medical officer Jeanette Young is revealing more details surrounding Rockhampton’s latest COVID-19 case. Picture AAPimage/David Clark
Queensland Chief Medical officer Jeanette Young is revealing more details surrounding Rockhampton’s latest COVID-19 case. Picture AAPimage/David Clark

EXCLUSIVE: CHO details Rocky nursing home case

THE REASON for travel by a woman who was yesterday confirmed to have contracted coronavirus has been deemed essential by Queensland Health officials.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young spoke exclusively to The Morning Bulletin this afternoon, confirming the woman had travelled under one of the state's four exemptions.

Dr Young, however, would not confirm which one - though it is believed to be a medical reason.

"It would be wrong of me to tell people what her reason was. However, I absolutely can assure people that it was totally appropriate travel," she said.

The scene of the latest confirmed case of COVID-19 in Rockhampton.
The scene of the latest confirmed case of COVID-19 in Rockhampton.

 

Dr Young also revealed the enrolled nurse - who continued to work at the facility even while suffering symptoms - had been rostered to reception duties.

 

A spokeswoman from Rockhampton Base Hospital also confirmed the nurse had not come into contact with any members of the public who visited the centre.

"She was actually in the reception area and wasn't providing hands-on care for residents, which is a good thing because that meant she didn't have as close contact," Dr Young said.

"It's still significant, she was in the facility and she had contact, so that's why we needed to immediately quarantine the residents from each other and make sure there wasn't any further spread."

Fears the woman had also worked at other aged care facilities across the region since returning to Rockhampton on May 3 were today confirmed to be untrue.

Instead, Dr Young said, the woman had been extremely helpful in assisting Queensland Health with contact tracing since she was confirmed positive.

 

Rockhampton Base Hospital is said to be experiencing a spike in COVID-19 testing.
Rockhampton Base Hospital is said to be experiencing a spike in COVID-19 testing.

 

Dr Young is unsure as to whether the woman had downloaded the COVID-19 Safe App prior to her travels.

"You could get quite a false sense of security even if she had downloaded it. But if only a small amount of the people she came into contact with have downloaded it, it's not helpful," she said.

She also revealed an inquiry into the centre's practices will take place after the nurse continued to work for over a week after she first started displaying symptoms.

"The investigation will happen. At the moment we're focused on the safety of the 115 residents, but there will be a process to look at how and why this happened."

Dr Young added further investigations into appropriate processes will be broadened to include all of the state's 16 aged care facilities managed by Queensland Health.

As of 5pm over 70 confirmed close contracts are currently under quarantine. No further close contacts have been identified since this morning's update.

Specialised plans to transfer some nursing home residents to Rockhampton's Mater Hospital or Hillcrest Private Hospital are now underway

A total of 20 residents have been transferred, with a total of 35 expected before the day's end.

 

Ambulances queue outside of North Rockhampton Nursing Centre as the transfer of some patients commence.
Ambulances queue outside of North Rockhampton Nursing Centre as the transfer of some patients commence.

 

"By moving some of the less frail residents out of the facility to other facilities, that will mean there's more space for those other residents."

It will benefit the at-risk Ivy Baker wing in particular, she said, noting that specific wing did not meet the mandatory single-room and bathroom requirements.

"That wing also houses residents with dementia and it's harder to tell when they've got symptoms," Dr Young added.

The origin of where the woman initially contracted the virus is still unknown and proving increasingly difficult to identify, she admitted.

Dr Young concluded it is likely the woman was infected in Brisbane or on the plane.

Details of where the woman visited in Rockhampton while contagious are known by Queensland Health, however, Dr Young would not provide any further information.

 

Rockhampton residents lining up outside Rockhampton Base Hospital for COVID-19 testing.
Rockhampton residents lining up outside Rockhampton Base Hospital for COVID-19 testing.

 

CQUni last night confirmed the woman had visited its North Rockhampton campus library numerous times, prompting its immediate closure.

"It's more important that we get the message out to Rockhampton that if anybody feels unwell or has a fever, or has a history of one to please come forward immediately and get tested."

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services are working to set up a second fever clinic which is expected to open tomorrow.

A clinic is already established on Canning St outside of Rockhampton Base Hospital.

Secondary testing on the nurse will not be conducted, Dr Young confirmed.