In just days, Queensland’s outbreak grew from one to seven, with one detail making health experts more alarmed than usual.
Queensland health authorities are in a race against time to determine how two more people diagnosed with COVID-19 contracted the virus.
The state recorded an alarming 10 new cases in the 24 hours to Monday morning.
While six were acquired overseas, four were the result of community transmission and were all the highly-contagious UK variant.
Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said two of the latest cases were connected to the existing cluster, announced last week.
The brother of one of these men has since also tested positive to COVID-19, but no longer has the virus.
Dr Young said he was likely the missing link to this latest cluster and had contracted the virus from the Princess Alexandra Hospital doctor who tested positive two weeks ago.
Dr Young said she believed two of the latest cases were work colleagues of the second man, revealed on Sunday night to be Lachlan Simpson.
“I believe one of them was also a housemate but that’s not been confirmed,” she said.
“Remember, we only received this information late yesterday (Sunday) so we are just going through all of that now.”
Concern surrounds the two other positive cases, with health authorities now also scrambling to work out how they acquired it.
“They will, of course, end up being linked,” Dr Young said.
“We will work it through but but at the moment I need to wait for the genome sequence.”
One of the people is a COVID-19 nurse at the PA Hospital, while the other is her sister.
However, Dr Young said she couldn’t yet confirm if the latest cases had caught the virus from the hospital.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said she would be contacting her NSW counterpart on Monday as the two unknown cases had been to Byron Bay while infectious.
Queensland Health have yet to release the dates of when they were there.
Dr Young said more positive cases were likely in the coming days because the two work colleagues of Mr Simpson had been infectious before they went into quarantine.
“We need to get as many people in quarantine as possible,” she said.
One of Mr Simpson’s work colleagues had also recently travelled to Gladstone in central Queensland.
However, Dr Young said it was too soon to know whether the city would face tougher COVID-19 restrictions.
“We need to find out what venues the gentleman went to while he was there before we can make that call,” she said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said because of the number of people who had now been infectious in the community, the list of hotspot venues across the state was going to be extensive, particularly in Greater Brisbane.
“We have to act swiftly,” she said.
The premier apologised for the inconvenience the snap lockdown was going to cause people, particularly in the lead-up to Easter, but said health had to come first.
“I didn’t sleep last night so I am very worried,” she said.
When asked if the lockdown would extend beyond the three days, Ms Palaszczuk said she hoped not.
“It’s going to depend on how our contact tracers go over the next 24 hours,” she said.
The premier also confirmed Prime Minister Scott Morrison had accepted her request to halve the number of international arrivals into Queensland each week, while the state handled the outbreak.
There were 11,624 tests conducted on 6,130 people in Queensland on Sunday.
Most of those were on people from the Greater Brisbane area.
Dr Young urged anyone in the region with symptoms to come forward and get tested.
BRISBANE’S LATEST LOCKDOWN: WHAT IT MEANS
– From 5pm on Monday, March 29, new restrictions will be brought in for Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Redlands as part of the state‘s snap three-day lockdown
– Schools will close from Tuesday
– People will only be able to leave their homes for four essential reasons including exercise, essential work, medical and compassionate reasons and shopping for essential items.
– Masks will be mandatory in Greater Brisbane (including the Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Redlands and Logan local government areas) everywhere indoors (apart from your own home) and on public transport
– Masks are not required when driving
These lockdown restrictions also apply to anyone who has been in the Greater Brisbane area since March 20, even if they are no longer in the area.