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Queensland considers mining camps for quarantining travellers with four new cases recorded

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 14/01/2021
Annastacia Palaszczuk et al. standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk held a press conference this morning to provide a COVID-19 update. (ABC News: Steve Cavanagh) © Provided by ABC Health Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk held a press conference this morning to provide a COVID-19 update. (ABC News: Steve Cavanagh)

The Queensland Government will consider using mining camps to quarantine travellers as the state grapples with a cluster of the highly-contagious UK strain of virus.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would raise the matter with the Federal Government when national cabinet meets next Friday. 

"We are going to look at all options and one of those options is to look at some of the mining camps that we have in Queensland," she said.

"Now, for a start, some of these mining camps are four-star.

"My understanding is most of them, the ones we're looking at, have balconies so there's a lot of fresh air for guests and also, too, there's the capacity for all of the staff and the cleaners and everyone to also be based on those sites as well."

"I think this is a rational option and if we are dealing with a strain which is up to 70 per cent more infectious, I think we need to be really serious about it."

No cases linked to Hotel Grand Chancellor so far

Queensland recorded four new cases of coronavirus overnight, all were in hotel quarantine.

Two were returned travellers from South Africa and two from the United States.

There is now 27 active cases in the state after more than 13,000 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours.

None of the positive cases were at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which was shut down yesterday after a spread of the UK variant on its seventh floor.

A major investigation is underway into what caused the cluster that's so far infected four returned travellers at the hotel, as well as a hotel cleaner and her partner.

More than 220 staff at the hotel are being tested and isolated along with 147 former guests, figures revised down since yesterday.

Furthermore, 406 contacts of the cleaner and her partner have been contacted, tested and isolated.

"So far none of them have tested positive," Ms Palaszczuk said.

'Looking good, but not in clear yet'

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young had "very little concern" that the UK variant had spread in the community.

"I am very confident that we have found the close contacts of both the cleaner and her partner and because we had those three days that people weren't leaving their home and people followed those instructions brilliantly, then I have very little concern that that spread in the community," she said.

"So far we haven't had any positives which is good, but we all have to remember that 14-day incubation period."

Dr Young said the virus started at the Hotel Grand Chancellor when a man and his partner arrived from the UK on December 30

She said he left the room to go to hospital on January 3 and the cleaner only worked on January 2.

"I am very, very certain ... the cleaner did not go into the room," she said.

"There is no way the cleaner has gone into that room after that gentleman left.

"That's all the facts, but the rest of the investigation still needs to be worked through by police."

All guests at the Hotel Grand Chancellor have now been moved to The Westin, also in Brisbane's CBD.

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath thanked them for doing the second round of quarantine.

"We are asking more of you," she said.


Video: Recent Greater Brisbane travellers in New South Wales asked to isolate immediately (Sky News Australia)

"But the reason we're asking more of you as individuals is because we need to ensure we keep 5 million Queenslanders safe and we also don't spread this to other states and territories across Australia."

However, travellers who have been asked to extend their quarantine say the decision was a "knee-jerk reaction".

Paul Atta was due to be released from the Hotel Grand Chancellor tomorrow but has been moved to The Westin for the second quarantine round.

"It's pretty frustrating to be honest," he said.

"We played by the rules, put our chin up and did the best we can.

"They've known about this strain of the virus in the hotel for a week and then at the last minute, just before people were due to leave, they pulled the pin.

"I think it's a knee-jerk reaction because they can't understand what's going on."

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