Coronavirus
Coronavirus

COVID-19 QLD outbreak: What you need to know

AUSTRALIA has switched to crisis mode to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

After thousands of deaths worldwide and cases mounting by the day, including celebrities and politicians, fears are mounting about what COVID-19 will mean for Queensland.

Here's everything you need to know about the state of play in Queensland right now.

HOW MANY CASES?

Queensland has had 35 cases so far.

Eight have recovered.

None have needed treatment in an intensive care unit so far.

HOW BAD COULD IT GET?

Queensland Health Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says the state is preparing for up to 1.25 million people to become infected with COVID-19, with up to 250,000 requiring hospital care and as many as 12,500 deaths over a six-month period.

But she says 80 per cent of people who develop the novel coronavirus will have a "very, very mild disease".

People are wearing masks in Brisbane CBD. (AAP image, John Gass)
People are wearing masks in Brisbane CBD. (AAP image, John Gass)

IS COVID-19 TRANSMITTING THROUGH THE COMMUNITY?

Dr Young says she is confident there is no sustained community transmission of the new virus in Queensland so far.

She says all 35 cases can be traced back to someone returning from overseas, or a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO EVENTS?

The Australian government has recommended public gatherings of more than 500 people be cancelled which has sparked a flood of events and sporting games to be cancelled or played without spectators.

Many popular events in Queensland have already been cancelled, including the World Science Festival in Brisbane, due to run March 25-29; the Paniyiri Greek Festival in May and the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships due on the Gold Coast in April.

 

WILL SCHOOLS BE SHUT?

Australia's chief health officer Brendan Murphy was asked what would need to happen for there to be more restrictions placed on Australians, such as shutting schools or public transport.

"There is no magic number," he said when asked what number cases would need to get to before there were more restrictions.

"It might depend on how focal it is, what part of the city, whether you do measures in one part of the city, so we would look at the circumstances as they arise.

"This stage we don't think school closures are on the horizon. It is only something that can be extended if there are school outbreaks. The interesting aspect about schools at the moment is that children don't seem to get either much in the way of infection or if they do, they get very mild infections."

But his main point seemed to be that unless there is widespread community transmission there was no need for more restrictions.

WILL PUBLIC TRANSPORT BE IMPACTED?

"Not in coming days," Prof Murphy said.

Because there is not "static" close contact on public transport there is no need for any restrictions.

"But again, if situation is developed and we get much more widespread community transmission then there may be measures that are recommended in relation to transport."

HOW WILL OUR HEALTH SERVICES COPE?

Queensland Health has plans in place to deal with COVID-19, including drive-through fever clinics and hiring student nurses and medical students to bolster the workforce.

Extra flu shots have also been ordered to try and dampen down other respiratory illnesses in the community during the expected coronavirus epidemic in the state.

Some aged care homes have also introduced measures, including banning people from visiting outside of business hours and demanding visitors undergo temperature checks and answer questions before being allowed inside.

The University of Queensland, which has already had three COVID-19 cases, is working rapidly towards transitioning to online teaching.

Most lectures are already available online.

 

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?

- Self-quarantine advice: You would only need to self-quarantine if you have been in contact with a coronavirus positive person in the 24 hours before they develop symptoms.

Prof Murphy said it was "very very very unlikely" the virus can be transmitted before that.

- Social distancing: There have been early signs of community transmission of the virus in other parts of Australia, which is why the recommendation on no public gatherings over 500 people was brought in. Large gatherings were the "quickest way to spread the virus" when there was community transmission.

- Pregnant women: Prof Murphy says research shows influenza is more dangerous for pregnant women than coronavirus.

- What if there is a large outbreak: If there was a big outbreak, 80 per cent of people would be treated at home because their symptoms would be mild.

Australians have been urged to reconsider non-essential travel. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Australians have been urged to reconsider non-essential travel. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

 

Details of Queensland's 35 COVID-19 cases so far:

 

- 5 cases were from a tour group originating in Wuhan, China - a boy, 8, men aged 37 and 44 and women aged 37 and 42.

- 3 cases were from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. They tested positive after being evacuated to Darwin and then flown back to Queensland hospitals for treatment. All are women aged 54, 55 and 57.

- 3 cases are people returned from Iran - a woman aged 63 and men aged 26 and 28.

- 1 case is a 20-year-old Chinese University of Queensland student who returned to Brisbane via Dubai.

- 1 case is a man who returned from Thailand, aged 81.

- 1 case is a woman who returned to Brisbane from London, with a short stopover in Singapore, aged 29.

- Two cases from the Sunshine Coast hinterland, a couple aged 38 and 42. The 38-year-old had recently returned from London via Dubai.

- One case is a woman who travelled to Austria and France, aged 46.

- Two cases involving a university student who travelled to Spain, Italy and France. A 19-year-old developed COVID-19 after close contact with the 22-year-old student.

- Two cases are a woman who travelled to the United States of America, and a man who is a close contact of this woman, both aged in their early 30s.

- Two cases are the celebrity couple Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, both in their 60s, who recently travelled from the US.

- One case is a 37-year-old man from Brisbane who had recently travelled from Geneva, Switzerland, through Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

- One case is a 40-year-old man from Brisbane who had recently returned from the UK.

- One case is a 24-year-old man from Brisbane who had recently returned from the US.

- Two cases involving a 56-year-old woman who had recently returned from Indonesia. A close contact of hers, a 60-year-old man, has also been diagnosed. He was diagnosed in Rockhampton but is not from there.

- One case of a 53-year-old man from Kingaroy. He is in self-isolation in a stable condition.

- One case is Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who developed symptoms after returning from the US.

- One case is a University of Queensland third-year psychology student.

- Four cases are yet to be made public.