February 29, 2020 17:42:28
Authorities are trying to track down up to 40 people who went to a Gold Coast salon and were treated by a beautician who has been diagnosed with coronavirus.
The 63-year-old woman became ill after travelling to the Gold Coast from IranShe is in a stable condition and in isolation in hospitalAuthorities will contact anyone who went to the Hair Plus salon last Thursday to ask them to get tested for the virus
The 63-year-old woman had recently returned from Iran and started feeling ill on Thursday while working at the Hair Plus salon, in the Australia Fair shopping centre at Southport.
Australia has now had 23 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, nine of them in Queensland.
The state’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, said the woman did facial treatments on up to 40 clients, in sessions lasting less than 15 minutes.
“She saw a number of clients each for brief interactions, so we believe the risk is incredibly low,” Dr Young said.
“Because as soon as she had her first symptom — and she is a highly intelligent, very sensitive lady — she spoke to her manager and she went home and she went to Gold Coast University Hospital to get tested.
“She did everything perfectly, you couldn’t have asked more of her.
“She came back from Iran, she was perfectly well on the flight back into Australia and up to the Gold Coast, and then a couple of day later she developed some symptoms.”
On Saturday afternoon the Federal Government announced a travel ban on foreigners coming to Australia from Iran due to the outbreak.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there is likely a large number of undetected cases in Iran.
Queensland ‘heading for epidemic’
The woman is in a stable condition and in isolation in the Gold Coast University Hospital.
Dr Young said authorities would be contacting anybody who went to the salon on Thursday to ask them to get tested.
Salon staff told the ABC they were shocked by the diagnosis, but did not want to elaborate further.
The woman was in good health when she flew into Australia, then to the Gold Coast, on Monday.
She only began showing signs of illness on Thursday.
“We’ve got no concerns about her flight,” Dr Young said.
“We’ve got no concerns about that first day, it’s only on Thursday when she developed symptoms.
“We know that we will be seeing a pandemic result through the world — it’s not been declared yet.
“But we know we will be seeing an epidemic here in Queensland eventually.
“We’d like to contain the virus, as we have been, for as long as possible and I believe that we’re doing that very effectively at the moment.”
‘Natural disaster declaration needed’
Health Minister Steven Miles said if there was a widespread outbreak clinical staff would be sent to aged-care facilities to care for vulnerable people.
“Those over 80 are most at risk,” he said.
He said the Federal Government should treat the virus as a natural disaster so more financial support can be provided, adding that hospitals too may need more funding.
“It is impacting on business, it’s impacting on the economy in the same way as a natural disaster does,” he said.
Dr Miles said the latest case will come as a blow to the Gold Coast’s tourism sector, with the region’s peak tourism body estimating the glitter strip had already lost more than $500 million.
The State Government has announced a $27 million aid package for affected businesses but estimates a total bill of $2 billion for tourism, education and agriculture.
February 29, 2020 10:21:45