The revelation is ultimately positive, as it means what looked like a potential for spread of the disease is instead a relatively contained situation, with all five people also now isolating and being tested.
Health authorities have had a breakthrough in tracing how the current cluster got started, identifying a case that may be the “missing link” between this outbreak and the cluster involving the Princess Alexandra Hospital doctor a fortnight ago.
After a 26-year-old man tested positive on Thursday for COVID-19, sparking the current scare, authorities have now found that his brother likely had the disease recently and is no longer infectious.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said serology testing had confirmed the man had the disease, and likely passed it to his brother, providing a potential link between the two cases that has already been suggested through genomic tests.
Dr Young said because of all that, she was comfortable to continue holding off on any lockdowns unless cases started to get out of hand.
“The reason [Brisbane] locked down [in January] was because that was the very, very first case of B117, this very contagious variant in the country, and we just did not quite understand it and know what we needed to do,” she said.
“This time, we’ve been dealing with this virus now for a long time and we’ve been dealing with these variants so I think we have a little bit more time that we can work out what is going on.”
She stressed that people should still wear a mask in crowded areas if they couldn’t socially distance, although she again held off on making masks mandatory in certain spaces.
Despite Queensland not moving to restrict movement for the time being, the effects of the current cluster are being felt in other states.
Western Australia said on Sunday it would not change its advice about Queensland travellers despite the clarification around the “party” situation, with all travellers from Queensland forced to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, with the arrangement to remain in place until at least 12:01am this Tuesday.
“I only learnt about the alleged party this morning on the front page of the paper, and I only learned after I saw the paper this morning that it wasn’t actually correct,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.
“We did it on the basis of the two brothers were moving around the community in Brisbane and had been to a range of pubs and events, and so that’s why we lifted the border arrangement for Queensland and that advice stands.”
The ACT announced on Sunday afternoon that anyone arriving from Brisbane or Moreton Bay council areas would need to isolate until they get a negative test result.
South Australia and Victoria also require travellers from Brisbane and Moreton Bay council areas.
NSW and Tasmania meanwhile require Queenslanders who have visited a “close contact venue” as listed on the Queensland Health website to stay away, and anyone travelling from the Brisbane or Moreton council areas to complete a passenger declaration form and be on the lookout for symptoms.
A full list of contact tracing locations can be found on Queensland Health’s website.
Stuart Layt covers health, science and technology for the Brisbane Times. He was formerly the Queensland political reporter for AAP.