A 30-year-old Queensland man found dead by his partner in their home is Australia’s latest and youngest COVID-19 fatality.
But health authorities have assured residents of Blackwater in central Queensland there is no evidence of risk to the broader community.
The man had a complicated medical history, had not worked since November and was not tested while alive because of the seriousness of his underlying condition.
His partner found him unresponsive when she returned to their Blackwater home after work on Tuesday afternoon.
An aged care nurse testing positive in Rockhampton earlier this month was the first case in central Queensland, but authorities have so far ruled out any connection between the two cases.
Health authorities have confirmed the nurse travelled to Blackwater in the second week of May, before testing positive, but a spokesman said she did not interact with anyone there.
Wednesday, 27 May – coronavirus cases in Queensland:
• 1 new confirmed case
• 7 active cases
• 1,058 total confirmed cases
• 180,371 tests conducted
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) May 26, 2020
“At this time, no evidence has been provided to Queensland Health that links the two cases,” the spokesman told AAP.
The nurse is suspended and under investigation after she continued working while showing symptoms.
A Queensland Health spokesman said there was no information that warranted a public health alert for Blackwater.
“If our contact tracing efforts identify any risk to the broader community or we don’t believe we can identify potential contacts, we issue a public health alert,” the spokesman told AAP.
While the coroner will investigate whether the virus or the man’s other known illnesses caused his death, a Queensland Health spokesman said the man had respiratory symptoms since the first week of May.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said he was showing symptoms for several weeks and tested positive after his death.
As well as not working for six months, the man had not left Blackwater since February.
The man’s partner is now sick and in isolation, but has not been admitted to hospital.
The police and ambulance officers who attended the scene are also now in quarantine.
The case is the first recorded in Blackwater and anyone with symptoms is being urged to get tested immediately.
Residents of Blackwater, which has a population of about 5000, responded to the appeal, with health authorities saying callers to the COVID-19 hotline were experiencing a waiting time of up to 35 minutes.
A fever clinic will be opened at the Blackwater rodeo ground from 8am on Thursday.
A team of public health experts and additional contact tracing resources have also been deployed from Brisbane to Blackwater.
“I have four planes on the ground, two in Townsville and two in Brisbane that we can use to go and get anyone who’s a confirmed case, and move them to Rockhampton or to Brisbane,” Young told reporters on Wednesday.
A total of 103 people have died from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, in Australia, with the latest victim becoming Queensland’s seventh fatality.
Two Queensland residents who died in NSW have been included in both states’ counts.
“It’s a timely reminder for all Queenslanders that this COVID is real, it’s out there, and it has impacts on Queenslanders and in this case, we have lost another Queenslander today,” Health Minister Steven Miles said on Wednesday.
Queensland has just seven active cases remaining from a total of 1058.
By Tiffanie Turnbull and Cheryl Goodenough