Authorities on alert over source of new COVID spike in Qld
Health authorities are "particularly concerned" a large number of coronavirus cases in Queensland continue to be detected among travellers from Papua New Guinea after another five cases were reported on Monday.
The high rate of infections in the southwestern Pacific nation has already been flagged as a risk to vulnerable communities in the Torres Strait where the vaccination rollout will be fast-tracked.
Last week, a large number of cases detected from the Ok Tedi mine in PNG spooked Queensland Health into temporarily abandoning passengers flying directly into the Sunshine State from the site on charter flights.
But despite this, more cases sourced from the Pacific nation have been detected.
"We are particularly concerned about the Torres Strait," the state's health minister Yvette D'Ath told reporters on Monday morning.
"We are getting large numbers from PNG right now and we just want to make sure we are protecting our far north where we believe there is a particular risk."
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said the more easily administered AstraZeneca jab would be prioritised to communities in the state's far north due to the surge in cases on the neighbouring nation.
About 1000 people will be vaccinated on three islands closest to PNG - Boigu, Saibai and Badu - where the requirement of the Pfizer jab to be stored at extremely cold temperatures is difficult considering the tropical climate and modest health infrastructure.
"It would be very hard to take the Pfizer vaccine to the Torres," Dr Young told reporters last week.
"We will be going through and doing the whole community on Boigu, Saibai and Badu, they are the three islands that are closest to PNG.
"Of course, we will do the border workers and the healthcare workers but at the same time."
All five cases detected on Monday have been transferred to hospital in accordance with Queensland's updated policy on new infections among hotel quarantine guests.
Originally published as Authorities on alert over source of new COVID spike in Qld