Brisbane lockdown: three-day shutdown called to contain dangerous UK Covid variant

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Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says rapid action needed after hotel cleaner tests positive
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Residents of greater Brisbane have been hit with a snap three-day lockdown in an attempt to prevent the spread of the highly infectious UK variant of coronavirus.Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced the lockdown on Friday morning – from 6pm on Friday to 6pm on Monday – saying the state had to move quickly after a quarantine hotel cleaner was confirmed to have been out in the community while infectious.Residents in the Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redlands council areas must stay home from Friday evening.The lockdown also applies to anyone who has been in the greater Brisbane area since 2 January but has since moved elsewhere in the state.Queensland hotel quarantine worker contracts UK strain of Covid prompting aged care lockdownRead moreThey must also wear masks if they venture away from home, something only allowed for four reasons: essential work, to care for a vulnerable person, and for essential shopping and exercise, with the latter two only allowed inside people’s neighbourhoods.Palaszczuk also revealed Queensland had recorded nine more coronavirus cases, all in hotel quarantine, from more than 13,000 tests carried out on Thursday.“We need to do this,” the premier said. “If we do not do this now, it could end up being a 30-day lockdown.”Palaszczuk said authorities had identified 79 close contacts of the hotel cleaner with the UK variant, with all now in quarantine awaiting tests.The state’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said the lockdown would buy contact tracers time to find everyone who had come into contact with the cleaner, who worked a casual shift at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane on 2 January.She said it was crucial that every one of those contacts was found and contained, until tests proved they posed no risk.During the lockdown, Young said, funerals would be limited to 20 people, and weddings to 10.“We are asking people not to go to any non-essential businesses, such as hairdressers, nail salons etc, cinemas, gyms … sporting activities over the weekend.“All of that is just on hold. We just need to take a pause for the next three days and just see what this single case means.”Restrictions have already been imposed on access to aged care homes, hospitals, disability services and corrections facilities.The health minister, Yvette D’Ath, said the risk could not be overstated.“We know this is going to be tough, particularly on businesses, but better we do this for three days and get this under control than spend weeks or months in strict restrictions,” she said.“Any delay could see significant, if not catastrophic results. This is not hypothetical. We’re seeing this playing out in the United Kingdom right now.”

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