When Queensland cruise ship virus case fell ill
HEALTH authorities have been left baffled over a new Cairns COVID-19 case in which the woman - a Ruby Princess passenger - did not test positive until more than two months after disembarking the troubled ship.
The woman, aged in her 60s, followed medical advice and quarantined for two weeks after getting off the vessel on March 19.
The Cairns Post has learned she began to feel ill and underwent a test on Saturday, May 23, more than two months later, which returned a positive result.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed contact tracing was now under way in the city to determine its origins.
"So we're monitoring that one very closely to work out if it's directly related to the Ruby Princess or whether it has been acquired in Cairns some other way," she said.
"But at the moment we are thinking it is from the Ruby Princess."
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service confirmed that the person lived in the Cairns local government area and that the case's origin was yet to be determined.
"The person is in isolation in their home and they have had limited contact with other people in recent months," the CHHHS said.
"We are taking a very precautionary approach and treating this case as if it was acquired in the community, however it may be connected to an overseas cruise."
The ill-fated Ruby Princess cruise ship has been the subject of an inquiry after it was linked to more than 20 deaths and more than 600 coronavirus cases.
The case takes the total number for the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service area to 37 with this being the only active case.
Cairns MP Michael Healy said the chain of events leading up to the positive result was "quite remarkable" and this was the first round of contact tracing required for the city in several weeks.
The previous was for the cluster from the Cairns Hospital's pathology unit which involved a visiting Brisbane worker and four Cairns staff.
Mr Healy said it should also serve as a warning to the community about the need for getting tested.
He said the number of people getting tested each day was about a third of the number at the height of Queensland's case spike during March and April.
"But what it's going to prove for us is that moving forward, until there is a vaccine, we're going to have to deal with in small doses in the community," he said.
"It should not be slowing our march to opening up the community and the internal and external borders.
"We are going to have to learn to live with it and if we can do that, minimising and isolating pockets which pop up, we will be fine."
CHHHS Acting Chief Executive Tina Chinery confirmed the woman was in isolation and urged people to get tested if they were unwell.
"That person's taken all the appropriate matters and is isolating accordingly and as it's a public health matter the tracking and tracing is under way," she said.
"It's a public health matter, but it's a really timely reminder for people who are unwell or worried, please attend fever clinics or your GP and seek testing."
Originally published as When Far North cruise ship virus case fell ill