Brisbane is going into a strict lockdown for three days over the weekend as health authorities race to track down everyone who came into contact a confirmed case of the highly-infectious UK strain of the CCP virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the government learned at 4 p.m. on Thursday that a cleaner who worked at the quarantine Hotel Grand Chancellor and tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, has contacted the more infectious UK strain.
“We need to find every single case now, every person who might have had contact with that lady now,” Young said. “Find them and get them into quarantine.”
“That’s what we need to do over the next three days,” said said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Friday morning that the government will go hard and go early to stop the spread, especially given the UK strain is 70 percent more infectious than the original CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
“What we are seeing in the UK at the moment and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain, and we do not want to see that happening here in our great state, and that is why we are taking those strong actions today,” she said.
The Greater Brisbane area, including Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton, and Redland, will enter a three-day lockdown from 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 8 to 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11.
“All residents living in those areas will be required to stay at home,” Palaszczuk said. “Think of it as a long weekend at home.”
“If we do not do this now, it could end up being a 30-day lockdown,” she added.
Residents will be allowed to go outside for four essential reasons, including attending essential work, providing health care or support for a vulnerable person, for essential shopping but only in the local area, and for exercise but only in the local area.
For the first time, the Queensland government has also mandated that masks be worn by residents that live in the lockdown zones when they leave the house during the lockdown. Children under 12 are exempt.
“If we are going to stop the spread of this infectious strain, this UK strain, we must act immediately, we must act strongly, and we have taken those measures today,” Palaszczuk said.
Palaszczuk apologised to those who may have had holiday plans for the weekend and asked for their understanding.
Young said she was confident that Queensland could respond to “this threat” as it had been responding since January last year.
“If we get on top of this today, we will be able to manage it, and we will not need to back through that lockdown period that we had to go through in March and April. We can do this quickly and rapidly,” Young said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has supported Palaszczuk’s lockdown decision, saying it was a “wise call” to have a brief lockdown.
“A big thanks in advance to everyone in greater Brisbane for their patience in coming days,” he wrote on Twitter. “This will buy much needed time.”
Wise call by Qld Premier @AnnastaciaMP to have a brief lockdown to enable Queensland health authorities to get on top of the UK strain case in Brisbane.
A big thanks in advance to everyone in greater Brisbane for their patience in coming days.
This will buy much needed time.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) January 7, 2021
The announcement came as Morrison, premiers, and first ministers were about to meet by video conference to discuss the UK strain at an emergency national cabinet meeting.
Nine new positive cases were reported in Queensland on Friday, all in quarantine.
The announcement comes as the state’s premier is set to join other state and territory leaders and the prime minister, for an emergency National Cabinet meeting.