Fears virus spreading through hotel again

By | March 15, 2021

Authorities are concerned COVID-19 could once again be spreading through the same hotel that was at the centre of Brisbane’s snap three-day lockdown in January, after three cases were linked to the quarantine facility this week.

Genomic sequencing has confirmed two returning travellers staying on the same floor at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Spring Hill, and a doctor who treated the first patient last week at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, have all been linked.

All three are understood to have contracted the B1.1.7 strain of COVID-19, which originated in the United Kingdom.

The virus spread throughout the same hotel in January, prompting the city to go into a 72-hour lockdown after a cleaner contracted the virus and spent time in the community.

A total of six cases were linked to the January cluster, and authorities were never able to form a definitive cause of transmission, but believe guests were opening doors at the same time and that the virus was transmitted via the corridor.

Initially, there were concerns the virus could have been transmitted via the airconditioning, but deputy chief health officer Sonya Bennett said on Monday this time around there “aren’t concerns about the ventilation.”

“This virus, we know that it can be transmitted through opening doors, et cetera and we’re seen that, and that is why all of these measures around, as you can read in the report, about not having people open doors at the same time have been implemented,” Dr Bennett said.

“We are pleased that we have got CCTV footage … I don’t think it necessarily will tell us anything, we can’t say that we know for sure but it is just extra information that we will have.”

The facility has entered a 72-hour lockdown on Sunday, with no guests allowed to leave and no further guests admitted until Wednesday.

More than 160 people are currently staying at the hotel, with more than 200 guests and staff who have left the hotel since March 5 ordered to go into home isolation.

Those who were staying on the first floor, where the two cases have been detected, will need to quarantine for 14 days.

“We are concerned enough that we think those on level one need to go into quarantine and be tested and we hope for the best,” she said.

The Premier and deputy chief health officer said there was no risk at this stage that the city would be plunged back into a lockdown, but that the next 24 hours would be crucial as contact tracing for the doctor was carried out.

“There is clearly a lot we don’t yet know and there will be work going on first to manage the public health risk … If we get positive tests in … we can understand if there is any risk to the community,” she said.

“We’ve seen this before … Some people are just highly infectious, and can transmit the virus through very little exposure.”

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