Tasmanian authorities investigate after British health worker returned positive COVID-19 test upon arrival at home in London
Tasmanian public health authorities are investigating the case of an employee at Launceston General Hospital who tested negative for COVID-19 but then returned home to London and returned a positive result.
- A former Launceston health worker who previously tested negative for COVID-19 returned a positive test after flying back to London
- Authorities say worker is very likely to contract COVID-19 while traveling from Australia to UK
- The worker had spent time traveling in Tasmania and authorities will post on Saturday on the coronavirus website a list of places they have visited
At a press conference in Hobart, Public Health Director Mark Veitch said the British health worker and a colleague did their last shift at the hospital on June 20 and then packed up their home and had spent time traveling around the state.
Dr Veitch said they both underwent COVID-19 tests on June 30 before leaving and returned negative results.
The couple flew to Singapore and then to London, arriving on July 3, where a day later one of them tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr Veitch said the two received Pfizer vaccines in March and April of this year.
“It’s a pretty complex story and there are a number of possible explanations,” Dr. Veitch said.
“Most likely this person contracted the infection on a flight, most likely the one between Singapore and London.
“It is possible that they caught the infection right after arriving in London.
“With some strains of COVID, you can test positive about 24 hours after being exposed to the virus.
“The other even less likely possibility is that this is a false positive test in London.”
Dr Veitch said under these circumstances there was “no risk to Tasmania as they would not have been contagious in Tasmania”.
The health authorities draw up a list of the places visited by the couple and will publish it on the state government website on coronavirus Saturday morning.
Tasmanians are urged to check the list when it is posted, and if they have visited any of the locations, self-isolate and call to arrange a COVID test.
Once they return a negative result, they can leave the quarantine.
“No one needs to wait, they have to organize their test via the hotline, preferably on weekends,” Dr Veitch said.
“What we’re trying to do is identify if there was anyone who could have infected these people.
“It is done with a lot of caution. I think there are much more likely explanations for this person to be infected, but it is very important that we cover even less likely possibilities.”
Border restrictions dropped with Brisbane LGAs
At the same briefing, Prime Minister Peter Gutwein announced that the Tasmanian government will remove the high-risk classification for Greater Brisbane and the Moreton Bay area from midnight on Friday.
Brisbane and Moreton Bay are the last two local government areas in Queensland on the high risk list.
This means travelers from Queensland will be allowed to come to Tasmania without quarantine, unless they have been to specific high-risk locations.
Mr Gutwein said border restrictions would continue with Sydney and adjacent local government areas “for as long as it takes” for NSW to bring the outbreak under control.
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