Greater Brisbane residents have spent their first night of three confined at home as Queensland battles to contain the more transmissible UK variant of COVID-19.
They face a nervous wait after a cleaner at one of Brisbane’s quarantine hotels was diagnosed with the highly-infectious mutant strain of coronavirus.
Authorities fear the cleaner, a woman aged in her 20s, had been infected and active in the community since January 2.
Residents in the council areas of Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redlands must stay at home until 6pm on Monday, except for essential work, exercise, essential shopping and to access healthcare or to look after the vulnerable.
The three-day lockdown prompted panic buying on Friday as massive crowds flocked to supermarkets stripping shelves of toiletries, perishables and canned goods with lines stretching for hundreds of metres at some stores.
Masks also will be mandatory for people leaving home aside from children under 12 for the first time in Queensland.
Meanwhile, as the southeast grapples with the tight new restrictions, fragments of COVID-19 have been detected in sewage at four more sites in Queensland.
Wastewater treatment plants in South Brisbane, Townsville, Hervey Bay and Maryborough have tested positive to COVID.
“This does not mean we have new cases of COVID-19 in these communities, but we are treating these detections with absolute caution,” Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.
“A positive sewage result means that someone who has been infected was shedding the virus. Infected people can shed viral fragments, and that shedding can happen for several weeks after the person is no longer infectious.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the situation was “very serious”.
“It moves so quickly, far more quickly than previous strains of the virus,” Mr Morrison said on Friday.
“We know there is only one case, but …this new strain is some 70 per cent more transmissible than the previous strains of the virus.
“This strain is likely to become in the very near future, the dominant strain, as it largely already is in the UK, but we anticipate that this will become the more dominant strain of the virus globally.”
Anyone with any symptoms is urged to undergo testing and self-isolate.