Police probe how mutant strain got loose

POLICE are assisting with an investigation into how a cleaner at a quarantine hotel became infected with a highly contagious UK strain of coronavirus before spending five days in the community while infectious.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday revealed police were working with Queensland Health to determine how the virus jumped from hotel quarantine.

Police patrolling South Bank during the three-day COVID-19 lockdown. Picture: Richard Walker
Police patrolling South Bank during the three-day COVID-19 lockdown. Picture: Richard Walker

It is understood detectives will assist with contact tracing, as well as investigate whether personal protective equipment was worn and whether cleaning processes were adequate.

Detectives will also look at security footage and any information recorded by the hotel's police "venue commander".

It comes as police plan to maintain a "highly visible" presence across Brisbane over the coming days to ensure people are wearing masks and not travelling unnecessarily.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said three people were fined on Friday night after police approached them for not wearing masks, and then found they did not have an appropriate reason to leave their homes. He said police had been giving people masks rather than fining them.

 

"Those persons were actually offered the masks, refused to wear them, offered again and then were given directions because they shouldn't have been out … as they were," he said.

"They were … given directions to go home … and they were fined for not following the direction, which is a $1300 fine."

Ms Palaszczuk previously said people could be fined $200 for not wearing a mask but Mr Gollschewski said officers were "not taking that action" yet. "We've taken very much a communication, compassion and compliance approach," he said.

Mr Gollschewski said police had handed out 360 masks to people seen not wearing one.

"And what's been really encouraging is that people are keen to wear them once they understand what's required of them," he said. "Overwhelmingly our community is trying to do the right thing, as they have done through all of the COVID response."

 

He said police would monitor traffic heading to both the Gold and Sunshine coasts to make sure Brisbane residents did not travel out of their neighbourhoods.

Gold Coast police have intercepted more than 150 vehicles heading south on the M1, but only two cars were turned back and no fines were issued.

Originally published as Police probe how mutant strain got loose


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