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Rockhampton nurse could have been source of coronavirus that killed man, 30, in Blackwater

A nurse who breached travel restrictions may be the source of infection that led to the death of a 30-year-old man – Australia’s youngest and latest coronavirus victim.

The miner, from Blackwater in Central Queensland, died at his home on Tuesday.

He had a complicated medical history and was showing COVID-19 symptoms for several weeks, but didn’t test positive to the virus until after his death.

Authorities are now investigating whether an unwell nurse from North Rockhampton Nursing Centre is the source of the miner’s infection.

The nurse, 52, broke public health orders when she drove 195km west to Blackwater for leisure before she tested positive to COVID-19, the Courier Mail reported.

Authorities are now investigating whether an unwell nurse who works as a receptionist at North Rockhampton Nursing Centre (pictured) is the source of the miner’s infection

It's understood the nurse and the miner aren't known to each other, but health officials are looking into the possibility of community transmission

It’s understood the nurse and the miner aren’t known to each other, but health officials are looking into the possibility of community transmission

The two-hour trip was a breach of travelling restrictions. Queenslanders can take day trips up to 150km from their home and only for essential reasons.  

It’s understood the nurse and the miner aren’t known to each other, but health officials are looking into the possibility of community transmission. 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already publicly reprimanded the nurse for going to work with symptoms and not waiting to get her results back. 

In an earlier interview with health authorities undertaking contact tracing, the woman provided details about her drive. 

The miner had not travelled outside his hometown of Blackwater since February, and hadn’t worked at since February due to an injury. 

His partner came home from work about 4.30pm on Tuesday and found him alone and unresponsive.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already publicly reprimanded the nurse for going to work with symptoms and not waiting to get her results back

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already publicly reprimanded the nurse for going to work with symptoms and not waiting to get her results back

Australia had the lowest new case numbers since March 6 on Sunday, as lockdown measures continue to reduce transmission of the deadly coronavirus

Australia had the lowest new case numbers since March 6 on Sunday, as lockdown measures continue to reduce transmission of the deadly coronavirus

The man had shown symptoms of COVID-19 prior to this death but was only confirmed to have the virus in a post-mortem test

The man had shown symptoms of COVID-19 prior to this death but was only confirmed to have the virus in a post-mortem test 

She called a paramedics who declared him dead when they arrived.

The man had shown symptoms of COVID-19 prior to this death but was only confirmed to have the virus in a post-mortem test. 

Health authorities believe the latest COVID-19 victim was a passenger on the ill-fated Ruby Princess cruiseliner, which had a deadly outbreak on board back in mid-March. 

During a press conference held on Wednesday morning, Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said it appeared the man had been ill for several weeks. 

‘He has a complicated medical history and that also needs to be worked through,’ she said. ‘Age is not a total predictor of people who are going to do badly.

‘The other thing is we don’t know the impact of the other medical issues he had. That will be something for the coroner to look at.

‘Whether or not COVID-19 was the precipitating cause for his death, that’s how we report it.’

The man’s partner started displaying symptoms and has since been transferred to the Rockhampton Hospital where she’s being isolated and further tested.  

The police and ambulance officers who attended the scene are also now in quarantine. 

His partner was working in the retail sector, and the Queensland government is now undertaking contact tracing.  

The victim has not worked since November and has not left the central Queensland town of since February. Blackwater has a population of about 4,500 people. 

Central Highlands Mayor Kerry Hayes said workers that commute from other central Queensland communities or from outside the region could have brought the virus into Blackwater.

The case is not the first in Central Queensland however, with an aged care nurse testing positive in Rockhampton earlier this month.

Health authorities are concerned that the man had never been tested for the virus, and are urging anybody living in Blackwater who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 to present to a testing clinic immediately.

Health Minister Steven Miles said fever clinics are being set up in Blackwater and Emerald – an hour’s drive west.

‘This message is particularly important for the blokes out there,’ Miles said. 

‘I know that men sometimes fob off their illnesses, they don’t go and get medical assistance, but we urge anyone, anyone in Queensland, but particularly anyone in Blackwater, who is suffering symptoms to please go and get tested.

‘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.’

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said anyone with flu-like symptoms – no matter how minor – should get tested.  

There have been 7,134 known cases of coronavirus in Australia, including 6,553 who have recovered and 103 who died

There have been 7,134 known cases of coronavirus in Australia, including 6,553 who have recovered and 103 who died

The victim has not worked since November and has not left the central Queensland town of since February. Blackwater has a population of about 4,500 people

The victim has not worked since November and has not left the central Queensland town of since February. Blackwater has a population of about 4,500 people 

‘It’s a timely reminder too for all Queenslanders that this COVID is real, it’s out there,’ she said. 

‘Blackwater has never had a case of COVID before.’   

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga confirmed the man who died was a miner who hadn’t worked since November.

‘My deepest sympathy and condolences go to the miner who lived in Blackwater and his family who have sadly lost a father and uncle, a nephew and a friend who was no doubt much loved by his family,’ she said. 

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 7,142

New South Wales: 3,092

Victoria: 1,618

Queensland: 1,058

Western Australia: 570

South Australia: 440

Tasmania: 228

Australian Capital Territory: 107

Northern Territory: 29

TOTAL CASES: 7,142

RECOVERED: 6,553

DEATHS: 103

‘I’m sure that we will be receiving more information as test results come back and the contact tracing work gets underway. This only happened yesterday afternoon.

‘Today is a sad day for Central Queensland and indeed a sad day for Blackwater – our thoughts are with you.’

The man’s death comes as one of Australia’s top health authorities boasted the nation had effectively beaten the virus. 

New South Wales chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant told state politicians the ban on international travel and the state’s grasp of social distancing meant it was well placed to stem further outbreaks of the virus and prevent a second wave.

There is just one coronavirus patient in intensive care across the state – and only five nationwide as of Tuesday. 

A total of 30 COVID-19 patients remain in hospital across the country. 

Australia’s death toll now stands at 103.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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