A male has been confirmed with COVID-19 in Rockhampton.
A male has been confirmed with COVID-19 in Rockhampton.

WHAT WE KNOW: Latest details about CQ COVID-19 case

UPDATE 7PM: MORE details have emerged surrounding the identity of Central Queensland's first confirmed COVID-19 case. 

A 60-year-old man from the Brisbane region is in isolation in Rockhampton Hospital after coming into close contact with a 56-year-old woman who was a confirmed case on March 12, 2020, after travel to Indonesia.

INITIAL: DETAILS are sparse surrounding the identity and movements of a male isolated in Rockhampton Hospital who is Central Queenslands first confirmed case of coronavirus.

While there was speculation the man spent up to a week in Mackay before travelling to Rockhampton, Queensland Health remained tight lipped on the matter this evening.

Queensland Health would also not confirm if anyone was in self-isolation in Mackay after coming into close contact with the male.

The case was one of the two first cases outside southeast Queensland, with another confirmed in Kingaroy yesterday.

The significant delay in alerting the public to the confirmed COVID-19 case in Rockhampton sparked anger and frustration among concerned residents, prompting a Queensland Health spokesman to defend and explain the peak state health authorities processes.

"The time between an initial positive testing result of COVID-19 and a public declaration of a confirmed case can take between 12-48 hours," a Queensland Health spokesman said.

"This is because it is critical to ensure a patient has returned a true positive result before enacting a help of a public health unit, or asking an individual and their close contacts to isolate.

"Occasionally, this may mean testing the patient more than once to avoid a false positive, or a false negative result.

"Additionally, the testing and reporting cycle can mean cases can be confirmed overnight, and publicly reported the following day.

"We understand members of the community might feel concerned about the recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their area."

Much like contagious viruses such as measles, as soon as an individual returns a positive to COVID-19, Queensland Health undertakes 'contact tracing' to prevent the infection spreading further.

In an instance where individuals have had direct close contact with a confirmed case, and Queensland Health cannot locate them individually, the health authority will issues a public health alert.

Close contact does not include people the affected person may have passed in the street or in a shop, as a risk of these situations is extremely low.

Only those those have had face-to-face contact with the confirmed case, for a period of more than 15 minutes, or those who have shared an enclose space with the confirmed case for a prolonged period of more than two hours are considered close contact.

The Queensland Health spokesman said the people most at risk of having COVID-19 were those who had been to affected countries in the past 14 days, or where they had come into close contact with someone diagnosed with the virus.

"Everyone in the Rockhampton community can be assured the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service has strategies and plans in place to ensure they are well prepared for all COVID-19 scenarios," the spokesman said.

 

CQUNI REACTS TO CASE

Addressing speculation the male may have been a CQUniversity student, Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp refuted the claim.

"CQUniversity has not received any advice from health authorities indicating that this is a CQUniversity student and we have no reason to believe the case in question is related to CQUniversity," Prof Klomp said.

"CQUniversity is taking the coronavirus situation seriously and we are providing staff and students with the latest official health information.

"CQUniversity is prepared to openly communicate with staff and students in the event there is a confirmed case related to one of our campuses and we will work with health authorities to put in place required measures to reduce risks and prevent the spread of this virus."

But Prof Klomp did confirm some staff had voluntarily self-isolated.

"We are not aware of any students who are currently in self-isolation. We have had a small number of staff who have decided to take voluntary self-isolation measures either because they recently returned from a high-risk location or simply because they had recently travelled overseas," he said.

"We applaud staff who have taken this measure as a precaution and courtesy to others."