ALL guests staying at a quarantine hotel in Brisbane will be evacuated and moved to differed facilities after it was revealed six cases of the highly infectious UK strain of COVID-19 were all linked to the facility.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the news on Wednesday after receiving the latest genomic testing late on Tuesday night.
It’s believed the outbreak in the Grand Chancellor Hotel started with a man, who recently arrived from the UK with the virus. His partner also became infected with the virus as they shared a room.
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A female cleaner working at the hotel then caught the virus, sparking the recent three-day lockdown in Greater Brisbane. Her partner has since tested positive to the same strain.
A father and daughter, who recently arrived from Lebanon, have also tested positive to the UK variant while in quarantine in the hotel.
The Premier revealed the two overseas couples had been staying on the same floor, sparking concerns it may be spreading around the hotel.
“Grand Chancellor has not had any issues by taking COVID people since September and they’ve cooperated entirely with the health authorities, but we are now concerned about this cluster,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
“Both groups of these overseas arrivals stayed on the same floor of the hotel at different times but not in neighbouring rooms.
“There is no need for the public to be concerned but we are going to take some immediate actions as a precaution.”
The remaining 129 guests at the Grand Chancellor are now being moved to other hotels where they will have to undergo another 14 days in quarantine and be tested.
Anyone who has worked or stayed at the hotel since December 30 will also be asked to quarantine and again be tested.
“They will not be charged for their time at the Grand Chancellor or in the hotels that they are going to be moved to,” the Premier said.
No more guests have gone into the hotel since the variant was discovered on January 7.
A major investigations is underway to try and determine exactly how the virus has spread, with Queensland Police combing through hours of CCTV footage to find clues.
“We know all six have the same virus but we aren’t able to identify at this stage what action or breach or environmental circumstances have led to that transmission and that is why we are taking these measures.”
Unfortunately there was no security footage from the 7th floor where the outbreak appears to have originated.
“We’re going to be very, very careful about floor 7, of course, and see whether that’s where it spread and the rest of the hotel is fine,” Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young said.
“We don’t know, so we’re taking a really cautious approach, as we always do here in Queensland.”
The Premier admitted the cluster was of concern but there was no need for alarm in the community.
“We’re learning more and more about this virus every day and it is a completely new strain, so it is highly infectious,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I just think everybody in Australia needs to be aware that things are not as normal as they were under COVID. It’s really stepped up to that next level.
“The fact that all of these six people were on the 7th floor. How did it get transmitted? Was it in the air conditioning? Was it movement? Was it picking up something? We just don’t know those answers yet.
“The investigation will go through that and we don’t know enough about this particular strain of the virus either.
“We are dealing with something that is incredibly complex.”
There have been no new local cases detected in Queensland in the last 24 hours out of more than 20,000 tests.
Two more cases were detected in hotel quarantine.
There are still 26 active cases across the state.