Officials look at Qld nurse's virus story

Blackwater locals with mild symptoms will be tested for COVID-19 after the death of a man aged 30.
Blackwater locals with mild symptoms will be tested for COVID-19 after the death of a man aged 30.

Investigators are working to "untangle" the changing story of a nurse at the centre of two coronavirus scares in Queensland.

The unnamed woman has been suspended from her job after she continued to show up for work at a Rockhampton nursing home when she had symptoms of the virus, and while waiting on test results.

Questions are also being asked about a road trip she took to the small town of Blackwater, while the state has been in lockdown, after a local man died with the virus this week.

On Friday it also emerged the nurse travelled to Kuala Lumpur in late March.

But she didn't tell contact tracers about her overseas trip until this week, after the death of Blackwater man Nathan Turner, 30.

"Her story has changed over the time frame," Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Friday.

"She gave us one story and then subsequent to that we've found out additional information. We need to try and untangle and sort through that."

The union representing the nurse has suggested she didn't initially tell contact tracers about her Malaysia trip because she wasn't asked the right questions.

Nurses Professional Association of Queensland spokesman Jack McGuire has told media outlets the woman self-isolated for 14 days after returning to Australia, and even had people deliver her meals.

He said she was not symptomatic when she drove to Blackwater on April 11, the day after she came out of isolation, to take a photo of the sunrise.

That was before Mr Turner began showing coronavirus symptoms.

Queensland Health has previously said the nurse made her road trip to Blackwater in the second week in May.

Mr McGuire told the ABC the nurse denies telling officials she travelled there in May and is now getting death threats.

"It appears to be incredibly unlikely that somebody wasn't asked if they had travelled overseas, when that is such a focus of our investigation efforts for all coronavirus cases," Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said on Friday.

He urged all Queenslanders to be honest if they are contacted by health officials.

"Lives are literally at risk, our public health officials are doing their best to keep Queenslanders safe," he said.

Dr Young said it was incredibly fortunate that no one at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre, where the woman worked, had contracted coronavirus.

Testing is continuing in Blackwater, where Mr Turner was found dead on Tuesday.

He was later found to have the virus but he also had other health issues. A coroner will determine what killed him.

Dr Young said there are two ways to determine if there is a link between the nurse and Mr Turner's infection.

"Firstly, by getting information from her so we can link it in time. We've not been able to get that information until now, to work out her incubation period, her period of illness," she said.

"The second is we'll be able to look at the virus. If we're able to sequence it from both her and the gentleman in Blackwater."

More than 220 people have been tested in Blackwater, with no further positive tests. More will be tested on Friday and in coming days.

There were no new cases of coronavirus in Queensland overnight, and the state has just six active cases.

Australian Associated Press