Gavin King

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Cairns Hospital staff member tests positive for COVID-19


A staff member working in the pathology unit at Cairns Hospital has returned a positive result for COVID-19.

In a rare case of community transmission in Cairns - rather than an 'imported' case involving someone who contracted the disease while overseas - the staff member is believed to have contracted the disease following close contact with a confirmed case.

The test result came back positive last night and they are now in isolation.

Extensive contact tracing is now underway to determine the staff member's interactions with hospital colleagues, with Cairns Hospital issuing a statement confirming they did not have contact with any patients.

The staff member works for Pathology Queensland, a unit of Queensland Health operating at Cairns Hospital.

The unit on level 2 of the hospital's E Block conducts a range of pathology tests for patients, along with a blood collection service. 

A hospital memo sent to staff this morning described the confirmed case as a "complex situation".

The laboratory and nearby areas where the staff member worked are undergoing a "terminal clean", a medical term for a "complete and enhanced" decontamination procedure for hospitals where contagious diseases may be transmitted.

"We are working as quickly as possible to address all the implications," the Cairns Hospital memo reads.

"The Health Emergency Operations Centre is leading this work locally and Pathology Queensland is working to ensure continuity of pathology services".