Queensland to enter lockdown after UK COVID-19 strain found in state

Greater Brisbane will enter hard lockdown for three days despite recording no new local Covid-19 cases on Friday as the city attempts to stop the spread of a UK strain of the virus.  

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Friday locals will also have to wear face masks as part of the new measures. 

There are 2.5 million people living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands.

Residents will be required to stay at home from 6pm on Friday until 6pm on Monday.  

‘Think of it as a long weekend at home. We need to do this. I’ve accepted the strong advice from Dr Young,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.

‘If we do not do this now, it could end up being a 30-day lockdown.’ 

Residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for four reasons: essential shopping, exercise in the local neighbourhood, healthcare reasons or for work.

Although face masks will be required to be worn by residents when leaving their homes, the mandate does not apply to children under the age of 12. 

The news comes after the state reported on Thursday a Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner had been diagnosed with the UK variant of Covid-19.

The mutated strain is believed to be up to 70 per cent more infectious, worrying health authorities.

The news comes after the state reported on Thursday a Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner been diagnosed with the UK variant, sending aged care homes across greater Brisbane into lockdowns (pictured, a testing centre in Murrarrie, Brisbane)

The news comes after the state reported on Thursday a Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner been diagnosed with the UK variant, sending aged care homes across greater Brisbane into lockdowns (pictured, a testing centre in Murrarrie, Brisbane)

The news comes after the state reported on Thursday a Brisbane quarantine hotel cleaner been diagnosed with the UK variant, sending aged care homes across greater Brisbane into lockdowns (pictured, a testing centre in Murrarrie, Brisbane)

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Friday residents will also have to wear face masks as part of the new measures

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Friday residents will also have to wear face masks as part of the new measures

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Friday residents will also have to wear face masks as part of the new measures

There are 2.5 million people living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands

There are 2.5 million people living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands

There are 2.5 million people living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands

‘Please, everybody, let’s be in this together, let’s stay at home, look at it as a long weekend at home with your family and friends,’ Ms Palaszczuk said. 

‘It will be tough on everyone for these three days. I think everybody in Queensland, especially the Greater Brisbane area, knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain.

‘We do not want to see that happening here in our great state and that is why we are taking those strong actions today. 

Prime minister Scott Morrison tweeted his support following the announcement of the lockdown.

‘Wise call by Qld Premier AnnastaciaMP to have a brief lockdown to enable Queensland health authorities to get on top of the UK strain case in Brisbane,’ it read.

‘A big thanks in advance to everyone in greater Brisbane for their patience in coming days.’ 

Queensland reported no new locally transmitted cases and nine new cases in hotel quarantine on Friday. 

Aged care homes across greater Brisbane were also sent into lockdown with visitors barred from visiting facilities in the Metro North, Metro South and West Morton heath regions.

Hospitals, prisons and disability accommodation in the same areas are also banned from accepting visitors.

The mutated strain plaguing the UK is believed to be up to 70 per cent more infectious than the original.

It is causing a sharp rise in cases in England and prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to order a national lockdown until at least mid-February. 

Britain reported more than 60,000 new confirmed cases in 24 hours for the second day in a row on Wednesday.

Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said health authorities were acting fast to trace down anyone who had come into contact with the cleaner.

There are 2.5 million residents living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands

There are 2.5 million residents living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands

There are 2.5 million residents living in greater Brisbane with lockdown applying to the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redlands

The infected cleaner, a woman in her 20s who lives in Algester, had been working at the Hotel Grand Chancellor at Spring Hill (pictured), with her most recent shift on January 2

The infected cleaner, a woman in her 20s who lives in Algester, had been working at the Hotel Grand Chancellor at Spring Hill (pictured), with her most recent shift on January 2

The infected cleaner, a woman in her 20s who lives in Algester, had been working at the Hotel Grand Chancellor at Spring Hill (pictured), with her most recent shift on January 2

‘We need to find every single case now,’ Dr Young said.

‘We need to find every person who might have had contact with that lady now, find them find them, and get them into quarantine. That’s what we’ve got to do over the next three days.’ 

The hotel cleaner’s infection ends almost four months of zero locally acquired cases in Queensland.

‘Queensland has done a great job containing this virus in our community for 113 days. Sadly, today we do have a locally acquired case,’ Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said on Thursday morning.

The positive case, a woman in her 20s, was infectious from January 2 before testing positive after showing symptoms on Wednesday.

The cleaner visited the Calamvale North Woolworths (pictured) between 11am and noon on January 3 while infected

The cleaner visited the Calamvale North Woolworths (pictured) between 11am and noon on January 3 while infected

The cleaner visited the Calamvale North Woolworths (pictured) between 11am and noon on January 3 while infected

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is urged to get tested immediately.

Contact tracers are tracking the movements of the cleaner, who worked at the hotel Grand Chancellor on January 2.

‘This cleaner did everything right,’ Ms Palaszczuk said earlier on Thursday.

‘She developed the symptoms Wednesday and was tested yesterday.

‘We need to ensure that there is no community spread. Once again, please, if you’re sick, get tested.’

The woman from Algester travelled on the public rail network to and from Brisbane’s inner city and southside.

Health authorities say she visited several locations while potentially infectious.

The woman travelled on a train from Altandi station to Roma Street station at 7am on January 2, then returned on the 4pm service the same day.

She also visited Woolworths at the Calamvale Central Shopping Centre from 11am to 12pm on Sunday 3 January.

She was also at Coles in Sunnybank Hills for 30 minutes from 7.30am on Tuesday 5 January.

The UK variant of Covid entered Queensland via a returned traveller at Brisbane Airport and has been identified in quarantine throughout the nation. This is the first time it has leaked from hotel quarantine

The UK variant of Covid entered Queensland via a returned traveller at Brisbane Airport and has been identified in quarantine throughout the nation. This is the first time it has leaked from hotel quarantine

The UK variant of Covid entered Queensland via a returned traveller at Brisbane Airport and has been identified in quarantine throughout the nation. This is the first time it has leaked from hotel quarantine

She was also a newsagent at Sunnybank Hills Shopping Town from 8am to 8.15am on the same day.

‘It’s important that people if they have any symptoms at all come forward and get tested,’ Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.

Residents of Algester, Sunnybank Hills and Calamvale who have symptoms of the infection are especially urged to get tested as soon as possible.

The Sunshine State now has 20 active COVID-19 cases and the new positive case comes from 15,000 tests over the previous 24-hour period.

Ms Palaszczuk has also announced travellers coming from Greater Sydney will not be allowed into Queensland until at least the end of January.

‘I know this is very disappointing for people during this time, but we are concerned still about Greater Sydney. We have a watching brief as well on Victoria,’ she said.

‘We’ll be having a national cabinet meeting tomorrow. I’ll get further updates there.’

The border closure will be reviewed at the end of the month.

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