COVID-19 contact tracing team shuts down in Queensland, Australia

On April 29, the Queensland Government disbanded a team responsible for COVID-19 contact tracking, issuance of quarantine instructions, monitoring of quarantine compliance, and confirmation and management of thousands of case data and vaccination status. Let me.

This happens the day after the state has terminated the quarantine requirements for household contacts and governments around the world have begun to roll back various pandemic measures, either voluntarily or after being overturned by courts.

The QTrace Central Contact Tracing Hub was established on January 13, 2021, about a year after the first case of COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus arrived in Victoria, Australia. I did. Guandong) From Wuhan, China-Source.

The hub’s original goal was to “stop the spread of COVID-19” in the northern Australian states.

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Overview of the Coolangatta Border Crossing in Burley Heads, Gold Coast, Australia, November 15, 2021. (Matt Roberts / Getty Images)

Dr. James Smith, Deputy Chief Health Officer of Queensland, described the QTrace team as an “important gear” in the state government’s response.

“They ensured that close contact was quickly quarantined, reduced the risk of community infections, and removed pressure from the local public health sector,” he said in a statement on April 29. ..

According to Queensland Health, Hub has tracked over 15,000 contacts and over 10,000 cases.

Their mission extended to the entire pandemic, managing a large cohort of close contacts, issuing quarantine instructions, monitoring compliance during quarantine, and facilitating the release of the cohort from quarantine.

In the future, contact tracing work in the state will focus on outbreaks in high-risk environments such as residential geriatric care facilities and follow-up when new mutations of concern are detected. increase. According to the release, this will be managed by the Queensland Public Health Department.

“Their work has kept Queensland people safe,” Smith said, saying the contact tracing team “prevented countless infections” in Queensland.

“QTrace helped the public health sector work to keep the number of COVID-19 low until more than 90% of the state’s adult population was vaccinated and the restrictions could be lifted,” Smith said. Says.

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People are lining up to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the Bunnings Hardware Store in Brisbane, Australia on October 16, 2021. (DanPeled / Getty Images)

In Queensland, infections were relatively low, hospitalizations were low, and COVID-19 was associated until 80% of the state’s population was vaccinated twice. This was a milestone needed before the state opened its borders. It is closed in other states.

Since then, the number of cases has skyrocketed, leading to labor shortages and supply chain problems. Although the disease is less severe, it is highly contagious and was cited as a reason for the new Omicron mutant of concern.

During this time, the QTrace team helped approximately 4,700 fully vaccinated Queensland residents return to quarantine at home from the declared hotspot, according to Queensland Health.

Until then, state residents were locked out, separating parents from their children and refusing to visit their dying loved ones. Those authorized under special conditions were paid approximately $ 3,000 (US $ 2,140) for quarantine at state-designated facilities, usually hotels.

The state will then cost $ 500,000 a day to set up a 500-bed COVID-19 facility in Well Camp near Towumba, about 126 km (78 miles) west of the capital city of Brisbane. Moved to end the quarantine plan.

The well camp facility opened in February for quarantine of unvaccinated travelers, international students, seasonal workers, and seafarers. The Queensland Government has funded a partnership with billionaire mogul John Wagner, who rented the facility to the state.

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Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles will speak at a press conference at the Parliament Building in Brisbane, Australia, on August 6, 2021. (Jonosar / Getty Images)

However, the usefulness of the facility was questioned when Queensland Deputy Premier of Queensland Steven Miles, who advocated the facility, said that the change in quarantine rules would “clearly change the need for wellcamps.”

“The Well Camp facility will continue for a variety of uses beyond that 12-month period, and our lease for it will last for that 12-month period,” Miles told reporters on April 22. ..

Miles said the well camp facility was tracked at another stage of the pandemic, and the state did not know what would happen.

The wellcamp facility is located near the proposed recreational facility and regional airport, a project of the Wagner family backed by the Queensland Government. The airport is mainly used to export cargo to China every week.

The cost of the facility was borne by Queensland Government Wagner, but Miles did not reveal the actual numbers, saying it was a secret. It is unclear how the facility will be used after the state’s lease expires.

Contact tracing and lifting of the COVID-19 restriction in Queensland will end when health authorities predict another wave of infection across the state.

But as other states lift the restrictions, Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr. John Gerard “needs to move forward,” although there may be a “slight increase” in some cases. Said.

This move will bring Queensland in line with New South Wales, South Australia, ACT, and Victoria, which have announced similar changes.

Caden Pearson


Caden Pearson is a writer and editor based in Cairns, Australia. He mainly writes about national affairs, Indo-Pacific geopolitics, and COVID-19 measures and pushbacks. He has a background in screenwriting and documentary. Contact him at [email protected]