CQ demands more COVID-19 detail on new cases

ANXIOUS and frustrated Central Queenslanders have ripped into Queensland Health for not revealing more critical detail on the background to the three new COVID-19 cases in the region.

Residents pleaded for more detail last night after Qld Health only provided a regional state breakdown at 5pm for 60 new Qld cases, including three for the vast area covered by the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

Here are a few of many comments:

Renee Anderson: “Central QLD is larger than Tasmania, it would be helpful to know where the cases are please QLD Health.”

Sarah Leah: “Central Queensland, want to elaborate on where exactly since central Queensland is a huge area, with a lot of different cities and townships.”

Mandy Ecker: “Central Queensland covers a very large area – how about being a bit more specific to stop the rumour mill going into overdrive!”

Aimee Maree: “Where exactly are these 3 new cases that have been confirmed in Central Queensland which 1, 2 or 3 hospitals are they at …? All of the following hospitals come under the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services …??”

The Morning Bulletin immediately put the case for more relevant background information for the CQ region due to its huge size, but Qld Health said the number of patients was now too large to allow more specific detail daily.

“We are working on a new reporting system and will communicate this with you as soon as we are able to,” Qld Health said last night.

“It is important to note, that should the public need to know additional details for public health purposes, we will issue a public health alert, and enlist the help of the media to get the message out.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding. Together we can keep Queenslanders safe and aware, but not alarmed.”

Well, we are alarmed about the lack of detail.

This situation surely opens the door for CQHHS to step in to inform the public to reduce concern, but last night it was left to Keppel MP Brittany Lauga to update CQ via her Facebook page about an hour after the anxiety snowball began.

“The three cases in CQ are in Rocky,” she wrote about 6pm.

“They have returned from overseas, they have been self-isolating and contact tracing is underway to contact anyone who has been in contact with these people. The three patients I’m told are doing fine.”

That led to a flow of Facebook praise for Ms Lauga but also requests for even more detail on the background to the cases which she was unable to answer.

Pete Mol: “Disappointing that you have to find out for us and keep us informed. I have family all over Central Queensland and am feeling like we are starting to be treated like idiots who can’t handle the truth.”

Jeff Philippi: “This has been going on for well over 14 days. You would think overseas travellers would have already known before getting back to Rockhampton. Also, you would think authorities should have already known that overseas travellers were returning to Rocky. That is of course unless they drove back from an international airport??”

Ms Lauga responded with a little more detail about the level of contact.

“Firstly, these patients did the right thing and self-isolated when they arrived home,” she said. “Secondly, the government is taking advice of the top medical experts in the country (and some would argue the world). The World Health Organisation (WHO) said there was “very little risk” of any communicable disease being transmitted on an aircraft. The risk is similar to that which you would face in any other public place.”

But another Facebook post from Beverley Armstrong asked “Why can’t we have the information on these people like NZ is doing. Giving their age sex and area also if from overseas flight details or if by contact with known person with virus. I noted they have some where neither of those were known so people with symptoms need to get tested not just from arriving from overseas or in direct contact with someone who has it?”

Why indeed.