Queensland’s latest coronavirus cluster has grown to 43 with a hospital outbreak leading to calls for stronger guidelines for workers on the frontline.
Queensland’s latest coronavirus cluster has grown to 43 with a hospital outbreak leading to calls for stronger guidelines for workers on the frontline.

Seven infected: Inside the Ipswich Hospital COVID cluster

SEVEN Ipswich Hospital staff have tested positive to coronavirus in the biggest outbreak among Queensland health care workers since the once-in-a-century pandemic began.

Six of them are nurses and all form part of the growing Brisbane Youth Detention Centre-Queensland Correctional Services Academy cluster, which has ballooned to 43, one of the biggest outbreaks the state has had to deal with in the past eight months.

The nurses are believed to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, while either nursing patients from the cluster, or being a close contact of someone caring for a coronavirus patient.

 

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An Ipswich Hospital sign, west of Brisbane, where seven health care workers have tested positive to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled.
An Ipswich Hospital sign, west of Brisbane, where seven health care workers have tested positive to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled.

The growing Ipswich Hospital outbreak has prompted the Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union to call for stronger guidelines surrounding the use of personal protective equipment in the state's public hospitals.

Queensland public hospital workers must be provided with either surgical masks or the more protective N95/P2 masks, which have a higher degree of filtration, in situations involving suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.

But as evidence mounts about the potential for greater airborne transmission of the virus than initially suspected, the union wants guidelines strengthened to mandate the use of the higher filtration masks whenever COVID patients or possible cases are involved.

"N95 and P2 masks are the best available defence against airborne transmission for those in contact with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients," the union's acting secretary Sandra Eales said.

"The QNMU believes that given the potential risks facing the community and the health of frontline members, the precautionary principle should be adopted.

"This principle supports the introduction of higher levels of protection without waiting for widespread scientific consensus. While the QNMU respects the specialist skills of infection control experts, we believe every precaution should be taken now to stop the spread of COVID-19."

N95/P2 masks, when fit tested, are designed to provide a good facial fit for individual health care workers.

The Ipswich Hospital, west of Brisbane, where seven health care workers have tested positive to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
The Ipswich Hospital, west of Brisbane, where seven health care workers have tested positive to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

In a statement, Queensland Health said an expanded use of the higher filtration masks were being put in place in Ipswich Hospital.

"We already, where there is an increased risk of exposure, use N95 masks," the department said.

"The community can be assured that infection control measures in Ipswich Hospital are strong."

Queensland's tally of known SARS-Cov-2 cases has grown to 1143, including 29 active infections. Ten are in hospital, but none in intensive care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Seven infected: Inside the Ipswich Hospital COVID cluster



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