Queensland Proposes Mining Camps as Alternative to Hotel Quarantine

Queensland Proposes Mining Camps as Alternative to Hotel Quarantine
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks during a press conference in Brisbane, Australia on June 16, 2020. (Jono Searle/Getty Images)
Caden Pearson
The Queensland government is looking at using some of the mining camps in the state as quarantine facilities as it faces down potential future outbreaks of the CCP virus, which health authorities have said will likely be dominated by the more transmissible UK strain.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Thursday that she will put the idea forward as an option to the federal government for discussion over the next few days.

The mining camps would have the capacity to house quarantine "guests" and all staff on-site, the premier said.

"Some of these mining camps are 4-star. They are of a very good quality, high standard," Palaszczuk said.

"Most of the ones we're looking at have balconies. So there's a lot of fresh air for guests. And also too, there's the capacity for all of the staff and the cleaners and everyone to also be based on those sites as well," she said.

The premier wants to discuss it at National Cabinet when it meets on Jan. 22. "I hope the AHPPC advice will also go to National Cabinet," Palaszczuk said.

The move comes after Brisbane's Hotel Grand Chancellor was shut down when six people linked to the quarantine facility tested positive for the UK variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

Palaszczuk noted the Northern Territory's Howard Springs facility was working well and there was no reason other jurisdictions around Australia could not implement similar systems.

"I think with this new strain, we have to put all options on the table, and these are sensible, rational options," she said.

Palaszcuk said it's too risky to quarantine returned travellers who may have the UK strain in the middle of Brisbane.

"We are looking at alternative plans to hotel quarantine that is based right in the midst of CBD where you have a whole lot of staff that come in from all around, and you have people flying in and out of airports," she said.

"If we are dealing with a strain which is up to 70 percent more infectious, I think we need to be really serious about it," she said.

The premier has asked Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young and Health Minister Yvette D'Ath and the Commissioner to look at the state government's options.

Young said Queensland now has 27 active cases and four new cases in hotel quarantine—two men from the United States in one hotel, and two men from South Africa in a different hotel.

She said health authorities have tracked down the hotel cleaner's close contact who tested positive for the UK strain of the virus. Young said the cleaner had not done anything wrong and laid any blame on the virus itself.

"There is nothing that I have found that says that the cleaner did anything wrong," she said

She said she has "very little concern" the virus spread from the cleaner to the community and attributed it to the three-day lockdown last weekend.

"We have a very, very good quarantine program here that we've had now since March last year," she said. "We've had a lot of practice at it."