Queensland health authorities breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday after no new cases of Covid-19 were detected in the community, one day after a virus scare.
An Australian citizen, who quarantined in Brisbane after returning from the Philippines, tested positive to the Alpha strain on Wednesday after being infectious in the community for a week.
Genomic sequencing has identified the man is a direct match with three other travellers, unknown to him, who he was on two flights with – Manila to Port Moresby and from Port Moresby to Brisbane.
He acquired the virus while on the flight on July 2 or 3, but tested negative three times while in hotel quarantine at Quest Apartments.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the other three travellers were sent to different hotel quarantines.
“This confirms for us that this gentleman has contracted it from one of the other travellers while in transit on the plane or through the airports,” she said.
Chief health officer Jeannette Young said he had “clearly acquired it” in transit to Queensland.
“We realise that is a longer incubation period than we would normally expect, but we know around one per cent of people can have an incubation period longer than 14 days, as has happened with this gentleman,” Dr Young said.
After leaving, he flew to Western Australia, but stayed in hotel quarantine there for two days before he returned to Queensland. Authorities believe he was infectious while on this flight and are now contact tracing passengers.
Upon his return to Brisbane, he booked into a hostel on Roma Street, where he stayed while unwell.
The risk of the latest case has prompted health authorities to extend southeast Queensland’s mask mandate which was due to lift on Friday morning.
“We know that people were hoping that the masks will lift, but I think we are up to 13 incursions of the virus through different outbreaks in Queensland over the last six weeks,” Ms D’Ath said.
“We have been able to contain all of these outbreaks to very small numbers. That is in some small part to the restrictions we have had in place… It is important that we continue to practice mask wearing to ensure that we don’t have transmission through our community.”