Noosa poll worker fears she may be coronavirus compromised

A NOOSA polling booth worker who fears she may have come into contact with a British tourist with coronavirus while staying on Hamilton Island last week wants the prepoll voting locally to stop right away.

The woman, who was at the Bushlands shopping centre early voting centre today for a number of hours, was shocked to learn of reports surfacing this afternoon of the positive northern diagnosis.

"I felt sick, not physically but mentally, to think that I might have been exposed while on Hamilton Island," said the woman who did not wish to be named.

"I was there last week at the same time."

A 36-year-old UK visitor is believed to have tested positive for the potentially deadly virus in Sydney before travelling to Hamilton where she was tracked down by health authorities and put into isolation Sunday night.

 

An elderly voter is up close and personal with a booth worker taking a voting guide card in Noosa.
An elderly voter is up close and personal with a booth worker taking a voting guide card in Noosa.

 

The Noosa campaign volunteer was aware of none of this when attending the prepolling intent on following the Electoral Commission of Queensland advice for keeping a social distance to avoid possible infection.

"I did stand back and keep my distance but was shocked by what I saw, there were a lot of elderly people there."

She was concerned that this at risk age group were up close with booth workers with little or no protections.

"There were no hand sanitisers," she said.

"This (election voting) has to stop and it has to stop now."

The woman said she will not be back at the pre-polling centre and will be keeping well away from family members at home.

Electoral Commissioner Pat Vidgen said the ECQ is monitoring advice from the Queensland Chief Health Officer regarding the appropriate response to the emergence of COVID-19.

"The current advice provided by Queensland Health is that there is no need to cancel mass gatherings or events, or take additional precautions to normal practice," Mr Vidgen said.

"We have provided advice to temporary election staff, and are asking that members of the public take normal common sense precautions, such as good hand and respiratory hygiene.

"This is, of course, a fast-moving situation, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely, and take advice from the relevant authorities, including Queensland Health. If that advice changes we are prepared to respond appropriately.

The ECQ also advised candidates: "Given the unprecedented nature of this situation and the health advice around static gatherings/groups and social distancing, we are asking you to make a unprecedented but voluntary concession.

"Please limit the number of campaign workers you send to any one booth with your how-to-vote cards or election material and, rather than handing them out to electors, please come prepared instead to display them on a corflute, folder, etc. to minimise the physical contact and social distance between your workers and electors."

And ECQ spokesman told the Noosa News there has also been a huge demand for postal votes that will preclude those people turning out in person to vote.