An aged care nurse under investigation for working while she had coronavirus symptoms and flouting lockdown restrictions is now being linked to the COVID-19 death of a 30-year-old man.
The nurse’s COVID-19 diagnosis sparked a health scare at a Rockhampton nursing home earlier this month, as she continued to work while showing symptoms.
The nurse, who was working at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre, eventually returned a positive test and as a result some 40 nurses were placed in self-isolation. And as reported by the ABC, medical staff from southern Queensland, including about 20 nurses, were flown in to assist in hospitals, fever clinics and aged care facilities.
“Honestly, a nurse should know better,” Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said at the time.
“Everyone has a personal responsibility here to make sure that if they are sick, they are not turning up to work,” she said on Monday.
Authorities are now scrambling to determine whether the nurse may have travelled 200 kilometres west and unknowingly infected the Blackwater man who died on Tuesday night.
In earlier interviews with contact tracers, the nurse admitted she had travelled to Blackwater for recreation.
At the time she drove west, residents were not allowed to travel more than 50 kilometres from home.
Authorities remain unsure whether the nurse’s case is linked to the Blackwater man as they believe he may have been symptomatic before she visited the mining town.
State Health Minister Stephen Miles would not rule out the link, but said it is yet to be confirmed.
“It’s possible that there is some kind of connection there, or it could just be a coincidence. That’s what our investigators are working on,” Mr Miles told ABC radio on Thursday.
“Those dates don’t really line up with when he got sick. It is a bit of a mystery and it could just be a coincidence.”
He said Blackwater residents weren’t told of the nurse’s visit because it was deemed low risk.
“To my knowledge, she drove there, watched the sunset, and drove back – didn’t leave her car.”
Nation’s youngest fatality
The 30-year-old Queensland man found dead by his partner in their home is Australia’s latest and youngest coronavirus fatality.
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.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says he was showing symptoms for several weeks and tested positive to the virus after his death.
His partner found him unresponsive when she returned to their Blackwater home after work on Tuesday afternoon.
The coroner will investigate whether the virus or the man’s other known illnesses caused his death.
The case is the first recorded in Blackwater, near Emerald in central Queensland, and residents with symptoms are being urged to get tested immediately.
“It appears that this gentleman who has passed away was ill for some time and did not get tested,” Health Minister Steven Miles said on Wednesday.
As well as not working for six months, the man had not left Blackwater since February, raising the question of how he became infected.Do you have an idea for a story?
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