Queensland Health officials are trying to track down eight returned travellers amid concerns about a potential ‘super spreader’ in hotel quarantine.
It comes as Queensland recorded a spike in new cases in hotel quarantine, with seven infections recorded overnight.
Five of those are linked to a mine in Papua New Guinea.
The remaining two are from a Qatar Airways flight that landed in Brisbane on February 17 which has officials on edge.
It’s also been confirmed that three cases from the same hotel have now tested positive for the Russian strain of the virus.
But Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young insists that variant is no more contagious and says she is more worried about one man who appears to be very contagious.
“We’ve had plenty of people throughout the pandemic who’ve been super spreaders. We had one individual who managed to spread it in a few hours to 40 other people, for instance, so we’ve had super spreaders all along from day one,” Dr Young said.
“So it’s the fact that there’s been spread on that plane, there’s no doubt about that. That is the concern, it’s not that it’s the Russian variant.”
Dr Young says she believes the transmission occurred on the Qatar Airways flight but can’t completely rule out the infections have happened at the Mercure Hotel in Brisbane.
“All of these positive cases were on flight QR898 and two of them were serving their quarantine period in adjacent rooms on the same floor of the Mercure Brisbane Hotel at North Quay,” Dr Young said.
“We are being very cautious and thorough and are investigating all potential possibilities for infection.
“What we do know is that one of the cases confirmed with this variant was infectious on the plane, and we believe that individual was more infectious than most cases.
Officials are now urgently trying to find eight people who were staying on the same level of the hotel between February 17 and 21 before completing their quarantine and being allowed to leave.
“I need to find exactly where those eight people have been. Some of them might have gone overseas, some of them interstate. They could have gone anywhere.”
Dr Young says they don’t believe there is a risk to the community at this stage.