Cairns pathology lab in quarantine after staff member tests positive


Karlie Brady


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Extensive contact tracing is underway after a Cairns healthcare worker tested positive to COVID-19.

Health Minister, Steven Miles, said the patient is a pathology worker in the Cairns Hospital who is a known contact of another confirmed case.

“It is thought very unlikely that they have contracted COVID-19 at work, however, they are now in isolation,” he said.

“The staff of the service who would have been in contact with them are in quarantine and the lab is winding down for a deep clean.”

That deep clean could see the Cairns lab closed for approximately 48 hours, however, in the meantime, QLD Health is working with private pathology providers in Cairns to continue testing, as well as at labs in Townsville and Brisbane.

“In the meantime, we will deploy a team of staff from Brisbane to relieve those who will be required to quarantine,” Minister Miles said.

The Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said it was very unlikely that the person contracted the disease through any specimen they had been working with.

“There is no risk to any of the patients at the Cairns Hospital or to any of the staff at the hospital, this is confined to the laboratory,” she said.

“Overnight a lot of work was done by the Cairns Hospital Health Service to work through who had been in that pathology laboratory and they are all being tested this morning and we will get those results in the next 24 hours.”

This new case will add to the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service region’s total which as of yesterday stood at 32 confirmed cases to date, of those only eight were active, while 24 had recovered. The cases have been from Cairns, Douglas Shire, Cassowary Coast, Mareeba, and Tablelands local government areas.

Minister Miles said that to date there have been 1007 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Queensland with just 19 currently in hospital, 11 in intensive care, and nine on ventilators across the state.

“It is still the case that only 39 cases are through community transmission with no known link.

“It is a reminder that the heroes of this effort are not just the doctors and nurses, they are often the most visible, but it is also the scientists, the pathology workers, and the cleaners that will clean this lab, who are also vital to this effort and I want to thank them for all of their work,” Minister Miles said.

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