Major Brisbane hospital may suspend elective surgery as thousands await results

Fever clinics have been ramped up across Logan, Ipswich and Brisbane’s southside with authorities bracing for the possibility of a major outbreak.

Staff at Metro South hospitals including Logan and Princess Alexandra were told in an email seen by Brisbane Times that “due to the immediate need to staff these fever clinics and ensure an appropriate level of testing occurs in the community across the Metro South Health district, we will be reassessing elective activities from the start of next week”.

Elective “activity” includes surgery and other procedures such as stress tests and scopes.

“We anticipate this may go on for several days and will unfortunately cause disruption to some of our usual hospital business,” the email read.

“By adapting and being flexible in taking on different roles in these clinics or backfilling staff involved in fever clinic operations, you are helping keep colleagues, PAH patients and all Queenslanders safe.”

The redirection of health staff came as vulnerable residents at an aged care facility in Brisbane’s west remained locked in their rooms on Sunday morning, awaiting coronavirus test results.

A nurse, aged in her 30s, may have been unknowingly infectious during her last shift at the Bolton Clarke aged-care centre at Pinjarra Hills on Tuesday, before she tested positive to the virus.

Since two of the women, Olivia Muranga and Diana Lasu, tested positive more than 27,000 Queenslanders have come forward to be tested, which works out to be about six tests each minute. 

Since two of the women, Olivia Muranga and Diana Lasu, tested positive more than 27,000 Queenslanders have come forward to be tested, which works out to be about six tests each minute. Credit:AP

Health authorities believe the nurse and her husband contracted the coronavirus from one of the women who allegedly lied about a visit to Melbourne to avoid mandatory quarantine.

The nurse, who did not have symptoms, put herself into isolation as soon as she thought there was a chance she may have contracted the virus.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young described her as a “model citizen” and the aged-care home believed the likelihood she passed on the virus was “very low”.

“We have been actively monitoring residents’ health and wellbeing with daily clinical observations since March and are now conducting more frequent observations as an additional precaution,” the home said in a statement.

“No residents at Pinjarra Hills are currently symptomatic.”

The facility’s 105 residents were tested for the virus on Saturday and remained locked down in their respective rooms, which are all fitted with an ensuite.

“We have rostered additional employees and have provided extra mobile phones and iPads to site to ensure residents remain connected with their families,” the Bolton Clarke statement read.

The nurse’s positive test result came as another roughly five million Australians were locked out of Queensland.

From 1am on Saturday, non-Queensland residents arriving from Victoria and Greater Sydney would be turned around at the border while those returning home were shipped off to mandatory hotel quarantine.

Speaking late on Saturday morning, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said police had screened 5975 passengers arriving on 76 flights in the past 24 hours. Of those, 114 were directed into hotel quarantine and one turned away.

“At the physical border, 6745 vehicles were checked, 80 of those were refused entry into the state [and] 35 were asked to go to hotel quarantine,” he said.

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