Third COVID case emerges in Brisbane as university worker tests positive

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A Brisbane university worker, who is a relative of a Brisbane schoolgirl who has COVID-19, has also tested positive for the virus.

Griffith University Vice-Chancellor Professor Carolyn Evans has emailed staff telling them a staff member, who is a family relative of the 13-year-old Sunnybank girl who tested positive on Friday, has also tested positive.

She says the person visited two buildings and attended one meeting at Nathan Campus on Wednesday and both venues have been closed for deep cleaning.

“The university was advised that a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19,” Professor Evans wrote in an email to staff on Friday.

“They are a close family contact of a confirmed case identified this morning.

“We have offered support to our colleague and their family during this difficult time.”

Queensland Health is yet to confirm the case as they do not announce new cases until morning press conferences.

File image of Southbank at Brisbane including Griffith University. Credit: Steve Christo/Corbis via Getty Images

Meanwhile, scores of families have been forced into 14-day home quarantine as authorities race to determine how the schoolgirl became infected with COVID-19.

The student, from St Thomas More College at Sunnybank, is one of three locally acquired cases reported in Queensland in two days.

Authorities don’t yet know if there’s a link between the girl, her family member and a NSW truck driver who was also infectious in the community at nearby Mount Gravatt and Archerfield on Sunday and Monday.

The truckie visited Westfield Garden City shopping centre, less than five kilometres from the college.

School shut down

The school was abruptly closed on Friday, with parents ordered to immediately collect their children, go home and remain there until further notice.

All households with a student at the college are now subject to strict quarantine orders that won’t be lifted until authorities determine if the girl has passed the virus to anyone else.

All students and staff who attended the college on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week are considered close contacts of the girl.

St Thomas More College in Brisbane’s south has been shut down due to COVID-19.
St Thomas More College in Brisbane’s south has been shut down due to COVID-19. Credit: 7NEWS

Other close exposure sites include the Coles store at Pinelands Plaza on Monday afternoon, and the Banoon train station pedestrian overpass on Tuesday morning and afternoon.

The two cases add to Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young’s concerns about the truck driver who was out and about at various locations, many at the Westfield Garden City shopping complex, for two days while he was infectious.

Young said the driver had had one vaccine dose, but he also dined at the shopping centre food court when people would not have been wearing masks.

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There was some good news on Friday for essential workers and students whose lives have been disrupted since Queensland stopped almost all cross-border movement due to the escalating crisis in NSW.

From 1am on Monday, Queensland has agreed that border crossings can resume for those two groups, as long as they are coming from the NSW local government areas whose stay-at-home orders will lift at 12.01am on Saturday.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young. File image.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young. File image. Credit: Darren England/AAP

The Australian Medical Association of Queensland said it was a great relief that all medical support workers were now classed as essential workers and would soon be able to resume their important work.

“When the Queensland government tightened its essential worker definition … doctors and nurses could still cross the border but orderlies, cleaners, caterers and administrative staff were shut out,” president Chris Perry said.

“This created chaos in hospitals and health care services in the Coolangatta-Tweed Heads region.

“We heard stories about surgeons having to wheel patients into operating theatres, nurses having to sterilise equipment, physios having to strip beds and GPs left with no staff to answer the phones.”

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