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CASE JUMP: Nine locally acquired cases recorded



Nine cases were locally-acquired in Townsville, three in Queensland, three were acquired interstate and two are under investigation.“Of the positive cases, four are inpatients of the Townsville University Hospital’s infectious diseases unit, which has been designated for positive COVID-19 patients,” Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said.“The remaining confirmed 45 cases remain in their homes under the care of the Townsville Hospital and Health Service’s virtual ward.”On Monday 27 December 1295 tests were performed across the Townsville Hospital and Health Service. Of these, 1256 were performed at our 1300 Smiles testing site.Long wait for test results leave locals in limbo TOWNSVILLE residents are waiting more than 72 hours for Covid-19 test results with at least one person expected to wait five days before they get the all-clear to leave isolation. This comes as the city tries to cope with the huge surge in need for testing with new contact tracing sites every day. 1300 Smiles is also bearing the brunt of testing with private clinics at James Cook University and Reid Park closed over the Christmas period. On December 26, 911 Covid-19 tests were performed, with 881 completed at the 1300 Smiles clinic. Townsville recorded 11 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the city’s total to 35. Aircraft engineer Rhett Mckee was supposed to fly to Western Australia for work on Monday but couldn’t leave Queensland without a test. He was tested on December 24 at Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology testing site at Reid Park and was still waiting on his results on Monday afternoon. WA requires all people entering the state for work to complete a Covid-19 test 72 hours before arriving. “I was supposed to go to fix helicopters that go out to the oil rigs,” Mr Mckee said. He flew to Brisbane in preparation to leave, but had to turn around when his test didn’t arrive in time. “I asked one of the nurses (when I got tested) and they said ‘24-38 hours you will get your results’,” Mr Mckee said. Now, he will return to Townsville and get tested again in hopes it will come back in time for another flight to WA. A Townsville healthcare worker, who cannot be named, has been in isolation since December 23 and may not get her results until December 29. Tested at the QML testing site at James Cook University, she had to cancel her Christmas Day plans and hasn’t been able to work her scheduled shifts. She, her husband, and four children had attended the Calvary Christmas Carols, which was listed as a casual exposure site on December 18. “We went to the JCU carpark thinking it was close to the hospital and it would probably get done faster,” she said. “They said to us it is 24-48 hours, here is a (number on a) piece of paper to call if it’s over 48 hours. “That was Christmas Eve in the morning. Our whole Christmas Eve plans wrecked, our Christmas Day plans wrecked.”She called on Boxing Day after 48 hours had passed, but was told it was now a 72-hour wait. She called again on Monday and was told it could take up to five days. Monday marked nine days since the casual exposure site was listed. “In NSW they’re saying don’t get tested if you’re casual just monitor for symptoms, if you’re sick get tested, you don’t have to isolate,” she said. “But Queensland has such strict restrictions in place that even casual contacts have to isolate.“Today is three days waiting for my test and I have no symptoms, but if I was symptomatic, I had been giving patient care all that time.“If I had known that QML were getting sent to Brisbane, there is no way I would have gone there.“There needs to be some priority for healthcare workers because I did have patient contact up until Friday. “If I was positive, it’s way too long to be waiting for results and then contact tracing all of those people.” Neither QML nor Sullivan Nicolaides responded to a request for comment. The Townsville Hospital and Health Service Acting Chief Operating Officer and Incident Controller Danielle Hornsby said wait times at 1300 Smiles were between four to five hours at 10am on Monday. The service had to close the gates on the testing site at 3pm in order to test through the backlog in testing. “The clinic has returned to standard operating hours and will be open from 8am to 6pm daily,” Ms Hornsby said. “We have also doubled our swabbing capacity to two swabbers in each lane. This increase in capacity allows us to accommodate cars with multiple people who require swabbing.“As the community can appreciate, our pathology staff are also working under increased demand.“Results for testing undertaken at our 1300 Smiles clinic can take up to 48 hours depending on demand.”Ms Hornsby said THHS staff who had gone above and beyond over the Christmas break to respond to increasing demand placed on the health service. NAT – Stay Informed – Social

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