Brisbane will be released from lockdown from 6pm today after Queensland recorded zero new cases of coronavirus – but residents have been warned to remain on high alert amid fears the mutant UK strain of the disease is spreading around the community.
Almost three million Greater Brisbane residents will be allowed out of their homes but some restrictions will remain for the next 10 days, including mandatory mask-wearing where social distancing is not possible.
Restaurants and shops can re-open but must obey a one person per four square metre rule until 1am on 22 January, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Monday.
Brisbane will be released from lockdown from 6pm today. Pictured: A shopper on Sunday
Police arrest a man for resisting to wear a face mask on the first day of a snap lockdown in Brisbane on Friday
New exposure sights for Brisbane
Woolworths Calamvale North between 11am and midday on 3 January;
Coles Sunnybank Hills on 5 January between 7.30am and 8am;
Nextra Sunnybank Hills news agent on Tuesday 5 January between 8am and 8.15am.
Anyone who visited is urged to get tested
The Australia-India Test match will go ahead at the Gabba on Friday with a half-capacity crowd. Masks will be required to enter the venue but fans can take them off when sitting down.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the restrictions will be lifted in 10 days as long as there are no new cases among people who have not been isolating.
Premier Palaszczuk thanked residents for obeying the rules and insisted she made the right decision by locking the state capital down for three days.
‘This has been something unprecedented, a world first, and an Australian first. We wanted to make sure we acted quickly, we acted strongly, we acted decisively and that is exactly what we did,’ she said.
The premier said the move was ‘definitely not an overreaction.’
‘It was supported by AHPPC and supported by National Cabinet. It has been supported by people in Greater Brisbane. They have absolutely done everything that we have asked them and they have seen the results today,’ she said.
The Greater Brisbane region was put in lockdown from Friday until 6pm on Monday after its was confirmed that a hotel quarantine cleaner had caught the highly contagious UK strain of Covid-19 from a returned traveller.
She was out and about for five days, taking trains and buses, before testing positive and going into isolation.
Health officials and police are investigating how the woman caught the virus from a male traveller.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he supported the three-day lockdown to buy contact tracers time to get in touch with all of the cleaner’s contacts.
Dr Young said 370 contacts of the cleaner have been tested or are awaiting results.
‘We now have 370 contacts of the lady involved and of those 172 have had their test results come back and they’re all negative,’ she said.
‘Then we’ve had 304 close contacts and of those 154 test results have come back and they’re negative.’
Ten ‘very close’ contacts are being re-tested on Monday.
Queensland recorded four new cases in hotel quarantine, including two Emirates flight crew and two travellers from the UK. It is not clear if they have the new strain.
Dr Young urged residents to get tested if they visited Woolworths Calamvale North between 11am and midday on 3 January; Coles Sunnybank Hills on 5 January between 7.30am and 8am; and Nextra Sunnybank Hills news agent on Tuesday 5 January between 8am and 8.15am.
Brisbane’s three-day lockdown won’t prevent the highly infectious UK strain of Covid-19 from spreading around the community, a disease expert has warned. Pictured: Brisbane on Sunday
Professor Peter Collignon of the Australian National University said three days was not long enough because it normally takes an infected person five days to show symptoms after catching the disease.
‘Three days will not solve the problem because the average incubation period is five days,’ he told 2GB radio on Monday morning.
Scientists say it can take up to two weeks for an infected person to get symptoms, meaning cases can appear 14 days after a transmission event.
‘You really have to wait, people have to isolate for 10 to 14 days, even 28 days for two full incubation periods,’ Professor Collignon explained.
But instead of arguing for a longer lockdown, the disease expert said it was ‘unreasonable’ to contain 2.5million people in their homes over one coronavirus case.
‘This is a single case, and I don’t think anyone in the world has ever done this before,’ he said of the three-day lockdown introduced on Friday.
‘It almost says we don’t have faith in our contact tracing system.’
Professor Collignon said New South Wales has done a good job of managing outbreaks with contact tracing rather than city-wide lockdowns and cautioned premiers against following an elimination strategy.
‘The trouble I have with elimination is that people become complacent… It’s inevitable we will have leaks,’ he said.
‘That is the reality, we just need to make the probability lower, but you have to accept you might get it.
‘I don’t think it’s reasonable that every time we get a case we lock down our cities.’
Queensland recorded zero local cases on Saturday and Sunday during lockdown
Professor Raina MacIntyre of UNSW said the lockdown was the right decision.
‘I think they did do the right thing in reacting quickly bringing in the mask mandate and doing a sharp, short lockdown,’ she told ABC News on Monday morning.
But she, too, warned that cases may appear two weeks after transmission.
‘Really you need to watch the incubation period from the last possible exposures from that index case,’ she said.
‘So when two weeks has passed after the last possible exposures – and there’s still no cases – then you can relax.’
Queensland recorded zero local cases on Saturday and Sunday.
‘Let’s see what our numbers are tomorrow (Monday), and then we will update Queensland about what the proposed steps forward are following on from that,’ Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Sunday.
Victoria has recorded zero new local cases of Covid-19 on Monday, for the fifth day in a row. There was one new case in hotel quarantine.
Queensland made masks mandatory for the three-day lockdown from Friday to Monday