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Incident response set up following confirmation of Brisbane hotel cluster

13 January 2021

The Queensland Government has initiated an urgent incident response after genomic sequencing of six previously identified Covid-19 cases indicated they were linked.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said six patients – all with the Covid-19 UK variant – had been linked by genomic sequencing.

All six cases are linked to the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane.

“The genomic sequencing suggests there is a common source of the virus for all six of these patients,” Dr Young said.

“That is new information – we received the results of the last test at 10.30pm last night – but it’s information we must act on.

“This morning we are putting in place a range of extra measures for people associated with quarantine in this hotel to help reduce any risk of spread.”

Dr Young said swift action meant there was no current need to change restrictions in Greater Brisbane or around Queensland.

The six cases include:

  • A man in his thirties who arrived from the UK on December 30.
  • His partner – a woman in her thirties who arrived from the UK on December 30.
  • A hotel cleaner in her twenties.
  • Her partner – a man in his twenties.
  • A man in his forties who arrived from Lebanon on January 1.
  • His daughter – a woman in her twenties, who arrived on January 1.

“There are two parts to this that we need to address – the incident response and the epidemiological mystery behind the source.

“Work on both is vital but the immediate incident response is critical,” Dr Young said.

Starting today all 129 guests in the hotel will be retested and moved to another quarantine facility.

A total of 226 people who worked at the hotel since December 30 will be asked to quarantine for 14 days since they last worked in the hotel, and be tested.

“All 250 people who have left the hotel since December 30 and remain in Queensland are being contacted – with those in Queensland required to quarantine and again be tested.”

“There is no evidence at this stage that the hotel or any of its staff have done anything wrong,” Dr Young said.

“And I want to compliment hotel management for their level of cooperation.

“It’s important we understand the link. It’s a mystery we need to solve.”

The investigation into how the virus breached quarantine protocols is being led by Queensland Police and is continuing.

Dr Young said she apologised for the disruption the incident response would cause.

“Throughout this pandemic we have acted with an abundance of caution, which is what we are doing today,” Dr Young said.

“I want to say to the guests currently in the hotel and the staff that their safety and wellbeing is our key priority.

“We don’t have evidence of any specific issue – we are doing this out of caution.”

A number of actions have taken place at the hotel since the cleaner tested positive on January 6, including:

  • No new guests have entered the hotel since January 7.
  • A small number of Queensland Police Service, Australian Defence Force, hotel staff and Queensland Health staff who had contact with the cleaner immediately went into quarantine.
  • A review of infection control measures in place in the hotel occurred on January 8,
  • Increased cleaning measures, including a deep clean of communal areas on January 12 of the floor the four guests stayed on.
  • Extra hand hygiene stations and extra areas for putting on and removing PPE established.

Dr Young said once identified, Queensland would be providing a list of all guests with interstate or overseas home addresses, who had left the hotel, to relevant authorities.

ENDS

Last updated: 13 January 2021