‘Time to use masks’ as COVID-19 cluster expected to grow


Queensland's Chief Health Officer is urging people to wear a mask and continue working from home amid fears a COVID-19 cluster in the state's southeast will grow this week.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the community risk had not grown, but declared Queenslanders needed to be "ultra cautious" to stop the southside COVID-19 cluster spiralling out of control.

The bleak outlook comes after four new cases were linked to the Queensland Corrective Services Academy on Sunday - sending a Fig Tree Pocket Early Childhood Centre and Staines Memorial College at Redbank Plains into lockdown.

A child at the preschool and a student at the school - known contacts to positive cases - tested positive to the virus.

Staines Memorial College at Redbank Plains has undergone deep cleaning and is expected to remain closed on Monday after the senior student was infected.

Dr Young said Queensland Health was working to determine when the student was at school and who he was in contact with.

Despite the breakout, there are no plans to introduce restrictions on educational facilities.

There are 28 active cases of COVID-19 across the state and more are expected this week due to the time people spent in the community before testing positive.

"We added up all of the days in the last 14 when known cases had been out in the community while infectious," Dr Young said.

"We have now had (the equivalent to) over 101 days of infectious people out in our community in the last 14 days.

"That means there have been those 101 opportunities for people to get infected so we know that we will see more cases."

Dr Young said it was vital people social distanced, followed COVID-safe plans and got tested if they were sick.

"It is critical that people, if they have any symptoms at all, don't think it's anything else," she said.

"It's most likely to be COVID-19.

"This is the time to get out those flat surgical masks … or if you've made masks with three layers of thickness.

"It's really time to start using them."

Dr Young said the mandatory wearing of face masks would not be implemented "for a while" but acknowledged there may be a time when they will be.

"I'm not confident the cluster is completely contained," she said.

In the 24 hours to Sunday morning, 10,558 people were tested for COVID, taking the total number of tests during this latest outbreak to 131,186.

One of the positive cases travelled to Toowoomba, prompting the southeast's gathering restrictions to be expanded to the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service region.

From this week South Burnett, Southern Downs, Toowoomba and Western Downs local government areas will be restricted to 10 people at home and in public places.

The restrictions do not apply to commercial venues operating with a COVID-safe plan.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also announced the second phase of the Dear Mind campaign has been launched to improve mental health.

The Dear Mind website provides ideas to incorporate mental wellbeing activities into everyday lives.

"It is absolutely crucial we talk to our loved ones, our friends and our family and just ask them are they going okay," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"This pandemic is taking a toll on everyone."

Originally published as 'Time to use masks' as COVID cluster expected to grow