An MP has appealed for calm in a small Queensland town after the death of a 30-year-old man who hadn’t left in months, but tested positive to coronavirus.
Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, says anxiety levels are high among Blackwater residents concerned about how former miner Nathan Turner became infected.
“There are a lot of people pointing fingers at the moment, but that isn’t the right way to go about it,” Mr Millar told AAP.
He called for calm, appealing for anyone with symptoms to get tested.
Mr Turner’s partner has returned two negative tests – the second result released on Thursday afternoon – although she earlier reported having some symptoms.
She found Mr Turner dead at home on Tuesday. He last left Blackwater in February and had been experiencing respiratory symptoms since early May.
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A coroner will determine his cause of death. He had a complicated medical history and had not worked since November. He was only tested for coronavirus after his death.
A team of contract tracers has been sent to Blackwater to find everyone who had direct contact with Mr Turner.
They have tracked down 20 people, with 18 testing negative. The other two, who aren’t from Blackwater but visited Mr Turner there, were expected to be tested on Thursday.
“There is a significant fly-in fly-out workforce so all of that’s being investigated as well,” chief health officer Jeannette Young said.
Authorities are pleading with anyone in Blackwater, and across Queensland, who has symptoms to get tested.
Three testing clinics have opened in the coal mining town and sewage from its 5000 residents will be screened to determine infection levels in the community.
Investigators are also considering if Mr Turner’s infection was linked to a Rockhampton nurse who had visited the town when she was infectious.
Health Minister Stephen Miles was advised that is unlikely, because Mr Turner developed symptoms before the nurse went on a 400km round trip to take in the sights.
“My advice, via the chief health officer, is that the timing of that trip means it’s unlikely she is the source of the infection, but it’s possible,” he said.
The woman is the same nurse who sparked the lockdown of a Rockhampton aged care centre earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Dr Young says more Queenslanders need to get tested if the state is to open its borders.
School students, workers and freight drivers can cross over, but Queensland is closed to anyone else.
“For us to go forward and to lift those very onerous restrictions that have been in place, we must do more testing,” Dr Young said on Thursday. Queensland has the resources to test 10,000 people a day.
“We’ve not even reached half that number,” Dr Young added.
Her comments come as One Nation leader Pauline Hanson threatened legal action in the High Court if borders aren’t reopened.
Senator Hanson gave Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk until 4pm on Thursday to respond to her demand, branding the closure as unconstitutional.
The state government has dismissed the court challenge as a desperate attempt for media headlines.
There were no new infections recorded in Queensland overnight. The state’s tally stands at 1058 cases, but only six are active.
Mr Turner was the youngest person to have died from the coronavirus in Australia.