Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has declared Greater Brisbane a COVID-19 hotspot less than 24 hours after 2.5 million residents were ordered into a snap three-day lockdown.
Eight further locally acquired coronavirus cases emerged in Queensland on Tuesday, six of which have been genomically linked to or close contacts of seven existing infections, while the other two are under investigation.
“As chief medical officer, I am today declaring the Greater Brisbane area a COVID-19 hotspot for the purposes of Commonwealth support,” Professor Kelly told reporters on Tuesday.
“(The cases) are related to the B.1.1.7 variant, the so-called UK strain, which we know is a variant of concern and is more transmissible in the community.”
He added that the declaration was made due to the “increased risk posed by the B.1.1.7 variant and the occurrence of cases who have been in the community while being infectious over a number of days” as well as “other factors indicating the risk of transmission and more severe disease”.
“This declaration is proportionate to the change in circumstances and the Commonwealth has offered therefore the Queensland Government support and assistance as is the case with a hotspot declaration,” he said.
“We’ll be watching very closely what happens in Brisbane over the coming days and indeed in northern New South Wales.”
While Kelly, as the chief medical officer, has declared Greater Brisbane a hotspot, individual states and territories will apply their own risk assessments and take appropriate action.
“The public health responses are the responsibility of the states and territories, they need to do what they see fit to protect the populations of their own states and territories,” Kelly said.