Margaret Strelow returned as Rockhampton mayor. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Margaret Strelow returned as Rockhampton mayor. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

Mayor and local MP’s respond to Rocky COVID-19 case

UPDATE 2PM: LOCAL politicians Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke were alarmed to learn about the new COVID-19 case at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre.

Ms Landry said there questions that needed to be answered by the Queensland Government, given that they ran the facility.

“Why in a nursing home that they run, was a staff member allowed to travel back from Brisbane on the 3rd of May, showing symptoms from the 5th of May and allowed to return to work with no testing?” Ms Landry asked.

“This has put at risk the residents of the North Rockhampton Nursing Home, the staff, family and friends as well as the general community.

“In a state run nursing home of all places, why was an unwell staff member allowed to attend work?”

Ms Landry said the staff member tested positive at 8pm yesterday and the nursing home was now in lockdown.

“I am very concerned that this may trigger an outbreak in CQ. I hope Queensland Health can maintain control of this spreading,” she said.

“If you have symptoms contact your doctor or the hospital. Make sure you have the COVIDSafe App downloaded on your phone.

“I am sending my prayers and best wishes to all the staff and residents of the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre.”

Mr O’Rourke said it went without saying that news of this new coronavirus case was worrying for the community.

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke called for extra vigilance against the threat of COVID-19 as restrictions ease further this weekend.
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke called for extra vigilance against the threat of COVID-19 as restrictions ease further this weekend.

“The nurse who tested positive for COVID-19 worked at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“Every one of the 115 residents and 180 staff members is now being tested and the facility has been locked down.

“Queensland Health believe she has been infectious since May 3 and has been out and about in our community since then. Contract tracing is underway but if you have any symptoms at all, please go and get tested.”

Mr O’Rourke said we couldn’t just assume that a sore throat or runny nose was a cold.

“We can’t be too cautious with this. This is a really important reminder to us all to be extra careful, especially as we enter stage 1 of the easing of COVID restrictions from this weekend,” he said.

“To get this right - and we can’t afford not to - our whole community needs to be working together.”

Key reminders:

  • Social distancing is critical.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly is critical.
  • Getting tested if you feel unwell is absolutely critical.

LNP calls for independent inquiry

The LNP have called for an independent inquiry into how a nurse with COVID-19 was found to be working at the state government-run North Rockhampton Nursing Centre.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington wants an independent inquiry into Rocky’s latest COVID-19 case.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington wants an independent inquiry into Rocky’s latest COVID-19 case.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said her thoughts were with the residents of the nursing centre and their families who are now confronting a very uncertain time.

“Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, which is why this case in a state-run facility is very concerning,” Ms Frecklington said.

“An independent inquiry is required to find out what led to the health of these residents potentially being put at risk.

“I am concerned that a nurse in a state government run aged care facility was symptomatic and contagious whilst looking after vulnerable residents. Either the proper procedures aren’t in place or they weren’t followed.”

Ms Frecklington said serious questions needed answering and an independent inquiry was the best way to get to the bottom of what happened at this nursing home.

LNP Candidate for Keppel Adrian de Groot said the situation was distressing news for the Rockhampton community.

Candidate for Keppel Adrian De Groot supports the call for an inquiry.
Candidate for Keppel Adrian De Groot supports the call for an inquiry.

“Like everyone else in this community, my thoughts are with the residents and staff of the nursing homeme and their friends and family,” Mr de Groot said.

“The community deserves answers, which is why an independent inquiry is needed immediately.”

EARLIER 12.20PM: DISTRESSED to learn about a staff member of the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre testing positive to COVID-19, Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow has added her voice to calls for anyone feeling unwell to be tested.

Appearing sombre in a video posted to social media this morning, Cr Strelow explained what she knew about the new case which has appeared out of the blue after several weeks of no new cases detected in Central Queensland.

A confirmed case of coronavirus at the North Rockhampton nursing home.

Posted by Margaret Strelow Mayor on Thursday, 14 May 2020

“Queensland Health are doing an extraordinary job of locking down the facility, testing everybody, getting out and looking at those contacts that the confirmed case may have had,” Cr Strelow said.

“It was a staff member so it was someone out moving in the community and the information that we have is that this person was likely infectious for a while.

“Our heart goes out to members of the North Rockhampton nursing community, be that staff or the residents there and those that care and love for them.”

Given that the virus impacted people differently, with some only suffering from fairly mild symptoms, the mayor warned residents needed to be especially careful with elderly residents and those members of the community who were more vulnerable.

She said we weren’t going to get rid of COVID-19 anytime soon and this latest local case meant we couldn’t relax and needed to continue to follow the health advice, especially given the planned easing of restrictions this weekend.

“If you’ve even the slightest symptoms, ring your doctor and ask for a test. That is how we’re going to get a handle on this thing. Let’s get that testing rate right up in the Rockhampton region,” she said.

“Do not soldier on. This is not the climate or the time for us to say it’s only a sniffle or a bit of a sore throat and go to work – don’t do that.

“Get a test, stay home and wait for the results.”

Washing your hands was also more important than ever.

“Keep your distance from other people, even those you know well. If they are coming to visit your home, 1.5m still applies,” she said.

“If you’re out and about, use your common sense, what ever you were going to buy, it’s not important enough if you’re crowded in if there were already too many other people in that store.”

Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow warned that this latest Rockhampton COVID-19 case meant we shouldn’t become complacent in adhering to health advice.
Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow warned that this latest Rockhampton COVID-19 case meant we shouldn’t become complacent in adhering to health advice.

When it came to visiting parks, she said to sit in a small group of no more than 10 people and other people should be “a decent stone’s throw away, not too close to you”.

“If it’s crowded, just go home,” she said.

Cr Strelow was grateful the regions hospitals had time to “build up strength” in their capacities and PPE in case there was an influx of cases.

“There have been and there will continue to be cases that pop around Australia,” she said.

“I think one of the things the Prime Minister has been very clear on is that we haven’t defeated this.

“All those calls from people saying ‘it’s over, lets go back to normal’, the reality is that we have a new normal that requires us to respect that this virus is still broadly in our community.”

She said this incident brought home the importance of locals downloading the Federal Government’s phone app COVIDSafe which would greatly assist the work of contact tracers.