On April 17 a staff member working in the pathology centre at the Cairns Hospital returned a positive result for COVID-19.
It’s believed that the staff member contracted the disease following close contact with a confirmed case.
Since testing positive the staff member has been in isolation.
The laboratory was shut down for an intensive clean and all co-workers were ordered into a 14-day quarantine regardless of early test results.
The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) released a statement:
So far, we have received the results for 81 contacts of the pathology worker have been tested for COVID-19, and all have returned a negative result.
Tropical Public Health Services is contacting people who are most at risk of transmission as part of its extensive contact tracing efforts and will identify if quarantine is necessary.
Those staff who are required to quarantine are all being tested for COVID-19.
Anyone who tests results are negative is still required to quarantine for 14 days from their last date of entry into the pathology laboratory.
The Laboratory has very strict protocols for infection control. The pathology worker had no contact with patients, including cancer patients.
The contact tracing associated with the pathology worker does not include any patients.
Other people who spent time in the laboratory between 19 March – 17 April will also need to be assessed, although there is a low risk of transmission. These people are asked to please email Tropical Public Health Services with their name, phone number, when they visited the laboratory, and for how long, to EOC_TRS_CNS@health.qld.gov.au.
Community transmission of COVID-19 has occurred in the Cairns area on at least 2 separate occasions and possibly more, so everyone is asked to continue to practise good hygiene and social distancing.
It is vital that anyone in the Cairns area who develops symptoms gets tested for COVID-19 and stays at home.
The symptoms include a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or a fever.
To get tested for COVID-19, please contact your GP, or phone 4226 4781 for a drive-through fever clinic appointment at either Cairns North (7 days a week) or at Edmonton Community Health Centre (Monday-Friday), or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
A terminal deep clean of the pathology laboratory was conducted on Friday and Saturday and the laboratory reopened at 4pm on Saturday 18 April.