Queensland has announced the occurrence of two clusters in the community of Greater Brisbane. To date, testing has identified seven people to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the first cluster, and eight people infected in the second cluster.
Whole genome sequencing has confirmed cases to have been infected with the B.1.1.7 variant of concern. Clusters are able to be distinguished through distinct B.1.1.7 genomes. The B.1.1.7 variant has been shown to have a higher rate of transmission and be associated with more severe disease.
This level of transmissibility results in the need for more stringent public health measures to control a community outbreak if it becomes established.
Numerous locations have been visited by cases during their infectious period including locations within Gladstone, Morton Bay Regional City Council, Byron Bay and Toowoomba. To date cases have all arisen in Brisbane residents only.
Due to the increased risk posed by the B.1.1.7 variant and the occurrence of cases who have been in the community while infectious and other factors indicating risk of transmission and more severe disease, this declaration is proportionate to the change in circumstances and the Commonwealth has offered the Queensland Government its support and assistance.
Declaring a hotspot for Commonwealth support triggers the following (if required):
- provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the National Medical Stockpile
- actions for aged care facilities including PPE, single site workforce supplement and integration of an aged care response centre into the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre
- assistance with contact tracing
- re-allocation of vaccine supplies, if required
- asymptomatic testing via General Practice Respiratory Clinics.
The declaration will be reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer on 1 April 2021.
Read more about listing areas as COVID-19 hotspots.