Latest case of virus shows how much health authorities don’t know.
Latest case of virus shows how much health authorities don’t know.

Patient tests positive months after overseas trip

A Queensland woman in her 70s is undergoing further testing after she was diagnosed with pandemic coronavirus two months after travelling home from India, where she is believed to have been infected.

The Brisbane woman's case has taken the number of known coronavirus infections in Queensland to 1058.

She was required to go into mandatory 14 days of quarantine on her return to Brisbane from India via Singapore in March and is back in isolation after testing positive overnight. She went for a test after developing mild respiratory symptoms.

Although the woman's case is under investigation by Queensland Health, the state's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she was suspected to have picked up the infection in India.

"We're not sure whether that is a persistent case or whether she's acquired it here," Dr Young said.
"We think it's most likely she acquired the case in India but we'll now have to do a lot of work to work through that."

The woman is among just 12 active cases of the novel coronavirus in Queensland, with only one - the Rockhampton aged care worker who tested positive last week - outside of the state's southeast corner. Four of the active cases are in hospital, including one in intensive care.

Contact tracing is under way to identify any close contacts Queensland's latest case may have had in Brisbane in the two months since her return.

Her positive test, potentially two months after she is suspected as having been infected overseas, underlines how much is yet to be learned about the new virus, believed to have emerged from a wet market in Wuhan, China, late last year.

Dr Young repeated calls for Queenslanders to get tested for the virus if "they have any symptoms at all" after a record 4886 COVID-19 tests were performed in the latest 24-hour period.

"That is what will keep all of us safe as we go forward because we're all going to have to learn to live with COVID-19," she said. "We must open up our economy to the fullest extent possible as we go forward but we can only do that if we manage the cases that we have and we can only manage them if we know about them. That's very important."

So far, more than 163,000 tests have been conducted in Queensland for the new virus, amounting to 3038 tests per 100,000 people.

Dr Young defended her advice to protect Queenslanders during the once-in-a-century pandemic.

"Early on in this pandemic, we were doubling our case numbers every three days," she said.

"From my point of view, it was terrifying. When we saw that curve going up, it was just going straight up. It was no different to what was happening in New York or Spain or London or Sweden.

"Look at what's happening in Sweden. They have more deaths per head of population due to COVID-19 than those other countries in Europe because they decided what would be best for their population was to keep their economy fully open.

"There are so many unknowns here. We just have to be so careful to not undo that fantastic work that's already been done."

Originally published as VIRUS MYSTERY: Qld patient tests positive months after overseas trip