Australia has recorded its first community case of the more infectious UK strain of the coronavirus outside of quarantining returned overseas travellers.
Aged care homes across greater Brisbane were sent into lockdown on Thursday after a cleaner at a Brisbane quarantine hotel was diagnosed with the UK variant.
Visitors will be barred from visiting facilities in the Metro North, Metro South and West Morton heath regions.
Hospitals, prisons and disability accommodation in the same areas are also banned from accepting visitors.
“The Chief Health Officer has ordered these immediate steps to protect vulnerable members of the community,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted on Thursday night.
The state is on high alert for cases of community transmission after the cleaner tested positive on Thursday.
The mutated strain plaguing the UK is believed to be up to 70 per cent more infectious than the original.
The hotel cleaner’s infection ends almost four months of zero locally acquired cases in Queensland.
“Queensland has done a great job containing this virus in our community for 113 days. Sadly, today we do have a locally acquired case,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said on Thursday morning.
The positive case, a woman in her 20s, was infectious from January 2 before testing positive after showing symptoms on Wednesday.
Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is urged to get tested immediately.
Contact tracers are tracking the movements of the cleaner, who worked at the hotel Grand Chancellor on January 2.
“This cleaner did everything right,” Ms Palaszczuk said earlier on Thursday.
“She developed the symptoms Wednesday and was tested yesterday.
“We need to ensure that there is no community spread. Once again, please, if you’re sick, get tested.”
The woman from Algester travelled on the public rail network to and from Brisbane’s inner city and southside.
Health authorities say she visited several locations while potentially infectious including Woolworths at the Calamvale Central Shopping Centre on Sunday January 3, Coles in Sunnybank Hills on January 5 and a newsagent at Sunnybank Hills Shopping Town on the same day.
Residents of Algester, Sunnybank Hills and Calamvale who have symptoms of the infection are especially urged to get tested as soon as possible.