Fears of another Qld outbreak as detention centre worker tests positive

URGENT tracing is underway in Queensland after a supervisor at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre tested positive to COVID-19.

The Ipswich woman, aged in her 70’s, developed symptoms on the 10th of August but continued to come into work while unwell.

Queensland Health has confirmed the woman worked at the Wacol facility for five shifts while she was in the infectious period, which goes back two days prior to when symptoms first develop.


Chief Health Officer, Doctor Jeanette Young, said authorities are now working through all of her contacts to determine anyone else who needs to undergo testing.

“At this stage, we’re working with the centre to test all of their residents,” Dr Young said.

“They have approximately 130 youths in detention there and all of the staff. There is over 500 staff.

“Plus, we will be going through whether there have been any visitors during that time period and whether, of course, there have been any residents who have moved in and out of the facility during that time to test them for two reasons. Firstly, whether they have got the infection now, possibly from this lady, or to try and see if we can find out where she might have contracted the infection.”

Dr Young doesn’t believe the new case is connected to the two young women who travelled to Melbourne and allegedly evaded quarantine while infected with COVID-19.

“At this stage, we’re not aware of any venues that she has been to that those young women who went down to Melbourne, that cluster of five, have been to during that period but that is the work that we will now be doing thoroughly over the rest of today.

The detention centre has been placed into lock-down overnight and nobody will be allowed into the facility.

“Any new admissions to the centre will not be accepted,” Director-General for the Department of Youth Justice, Bob Gee, said.

“Can I ask people to stay away from the youth detention centre. We have police out there doing what they do best, helping us keep people away. The best thing we can do is let health get in there and work with us to make sure we have the safest possible environment for the community.”

Mr Gee was confident every effort was being made to make sure the facility was safe.

“It is not the first time we have had infectious diseases in a youth detention centre,” he said.

“We are well practised at locking down. Whether that is for a security or health reason, we are well practised at that.

“Last night all of the young people were locked in their rooms and they stayed there. We will have, using personal protective equipment and well-trained staff, support for them for as long as it takes for health to move through and do what they need to do.

Mr Gee was confident they would be able to track down any detainees who may have come into contact with the woman.

“The good thing about a youth detention centre is all movement within reason is tracked. The significant – and I think you all know this – there is significant CCTV footage. We will be able to work through all of that as best we can. I would say that the advice I initially have is that her contact was limited to only a very small number of young people. She has not worked in the accommodation section. She has worked in the operations centre.”

It comes after Queensland Health issued a public health warning following news a woman in Japan, who travelled from Brisbane via Sydney, has also tested positive.

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Contact tracing for that case is also continuing today.

Dr Young has urged any Queenslanders who feel unwell to come forward and get tested.

“We don’t know when our next case might appear in our community and the best way to defend against it is for people to get tested as early as possible and to not go out into the community and
not go to work while they are unwell.”