Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said she is “frustrated” by the lack of information being shared by the federal government about those who are arriving in Australia from the Hubei province of China and might have been exposed to the potentially deadly coronavirus.
There have been over 200 people killed by the virus, with 8,000 confirmed cases, including nine in Australia, and on Friday the World Health Organisation declared a global emergency.
The state government was caught unaware after two confirmed cases of the virus in Queensland on Thursday from a man and a woman who had travelled to the Gold Coast from Melbourne on a Tiger Airways plane, after arriving in Melbourne from Wuhan.
The pair who were confirmed to have the virus were part of a group of nine and all nine have been isolated at Gold Coast University Hospital. Tiger has contacted all 157 passengers on board the flight.
Palaszczuk told Seven’s Sunrise program the federal government should have been sharing all information with state governments.
“I am frustrated by the lack of information that we are receiving from the federal government,” she said.
“To the group that arrived, they arrived into Melbourne. Only the federal government has the details of their incoming boarding card of who they are, where they are staying and their mobile phone contact numbers. We need to contact those people.”
The Queensland premier said there should be a meeting with the premiers, or at the very least a phone call so up-to-date information can be provided.
In a press conference on Friday, health minister Greg Hunt refuted Palaszczuk’s claim that the states were being left in the dark. He said the information about the Tiger flight, including email addresses and phone numbers of passengers on board were made available to the Queensland government at 4pm on Thursday, and Queensland had been included in daily health briefings going back to 20 January.
“If that information has not been provided within the Queensland system to the premier, I would respectfully urge the premier to seek that advice from her own system, but everything that is available to us is available to them.”
Palaszczuk again refuted Hunt’s claim in a press conference shortly after, stating they needed information on the incoming arrival cards, not just for the one Tiger flight.
“They provided information about the domestic flight that has come from Melbourne to the Gold Coast. That is the information they have provided.”
The last flight from Wuhan arrived a week ago, and the acting chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said contact tracing had been undertaken for every passenger on that flight. For flights before that, he said the risk was lower due to the incubation period being between a week and a fortnight.
People who have travelled to Australia in the past fortnight have been told to isolate themselves for 14 days.
The nine confirmed cases in Australia include two in Queensland, three in Victoria and four in New South Wales. Two of those confirmed cases in New South Wales have subsequently been declared post viral and they have been released from quarantine.
The government is still working to bring some 600 Australians and permanent residents stranded in the Hubei province back to Australia, where the government has said they will be sent to Christmas Island for a two-week quarantine period.
Hunt said “significant progress” had been made in securing getting a plane into the region.