Mackay Hospital and Health Service has announced the re- opening of the walk-in COVID-19 testing clinic at Airlie Beach Lagoon on Friday to provide more testing opportunities in the Whitsundays.
Opening hours will be advised later today.
This follows the discovery of traces of COVID-19 virus in sewage at the Cannonvale treatment plant on September 21.
There was a previous detection of virus fragments on 20 August, but results were clear in samples on 31 August, 7 and 14 September.
"These surveillance tests are extremely sensitive and can pick up tiny pieces of the genetic material of the virus."
The result does not necessarily mean there are active cases in the Airlie Beach / Cannonvale region."
"There are no known outbreaks or cases in the area however we cannot rule out the possibility that infectious persons were or are still in the area, who have not been tested."
"People who have recovered from COVID-19 can have live or dead virus in their stool for weeks after recovery."
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or loss of smell or taste is urged to be tested.
They should stay home and isolate themselves from other people until they get their result. Testing is free for everyone including foreign nationals.
The Bureau of Meteorology's ENSO Outlook has moved to LA NIÑA, indicating La Niña is established in the tropical Pacific. All surveyed international climate models indicate this La Niña will persist until at least January 2021.
While models agree La Niña will continue well into summer 2020–21, around half the models predict a strong event, while 3 of 8 models suggest moderate strength. Overall, models do not currently anticipate this event will be as strong as the La Niña of 2010–12, which was one of the four strongest La Niñas on record. The strength of La Niña impacts on Australia are often related to the strength of the event.
Central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures exceed La Niña thresholds (0.8 °C below average) and atmospheric indicators, including the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), trade winds and cloud, are also at La Niña levels.
In the Indian Ocean, the latest values of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index have again gone into negative dipole territory. Five of the 6 surveyed models indicate the IOD will be negative for October, and three models continue negative IOD values into November.
La Niña typically means:
* Increased rainfall across much of Australia
* Cooler daytime temperatures (south of the tropics)
* Warmer overnight temperatures (in the north)
* Shift in temperature extremes
* Decreased frost risk
* Greater tropical cyclone numbers
* Earlier monsoon onset
Current Member for Whitsunday, Jason Costigan, has called for crocodiles to be "culled under a controversial shoot to kill plan focusing on public safety and the reputation of Queensland’s tourism industry".
Mr. Costigan said the policy provided a “North and Far North Queensland solution to a North and Far North Queensland problem”.
“We can either pussyfoot around or take decisive action in boosting community safety in North, Far North and Central Queensland and at that same time, tell those politicians down south to butt out,” he said in a statement.
“If there is a crocodile on one of our beaches in a populated area, perhaps a tourist spot or in a swimming hole or where workers are at risk of being attacked, it’ll be shot by a licensed contractor whose job it will be to go in and deal with the problem as a matter of urgency.
“We cannot afford to have departmental people getting a phone call about a crocodile, then getting to the location a few hours later, putting up signs and then taking weeks and possibly months to catch these monsters. We need swift action and that includes shooting these man-eaters that continue to grow in numbers after they were protected in Queensland in 1974" he added.
The Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk MP has announced a widening of the open border zone. From 1am on Thursday, October 1 the Queensland border zone will expand to include Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes council areas.
Border residents can apply for a border pass and travel around Queensland for any purpose, and Queenslanders can travel to those places as well.
"It’s an important step in supporting border communities and ensuring Queensland’s economy rebounds – not the virus, she said.
"Our strong borders have kept Queenslanders safe and allowed us to keep our economy going, businesses open and people working.
"Thanks to Queensland’s strong health response and falling numbers of the virus, we can now take a gradual approach to easing these restrictions."
Bowen Police are appealing for community assistance following an alleged assault on Saturday, August 29.
Around 2pm, a woman was sitting in her vehicle eating her lunch in Quay Street, Bowen, when she was approached by a man who had exited a vehicle nearby.
Following a brief conversation, the man allegedly reached through the open car window and touched the woman inappropriately and attempted to kiss her several times.
The woman allegedly told the man to leave her alone and he returned to his vehicle.
Quite shaken, the woman immediately drove away from the area.
The man’s vehicle is described as a white utility with orange letters on the rear passenger side door.
He is described as a thick set Caucasian middle aged man, approximately 182cm tall with short blonde hair and fair skin, and a visible gap between his upper front teeth.
He was wearing board shorts and a black and white striped shirt, and introduced himself as Leon.
Bowen Police would like to speak with anyone who was in the area at the time, or who may be familiar with the described vehicle or man.
Police would particularly like to speak with the person or persons who were parked nearby in a dark grey – possibly a Nissan Navara utility when this incident occurred. Police believe they may be able to help positively identify the man or his vehicle.
If you have any information about this incident, please contact Bowen Police Station on (07) 4720 4555.
If you have information for police, contact Policelink by providing information using the online suspicious activity form 24hrs per day at www.police.qld.gov.au/reporting.
This morning Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Hon Dr Steven Miles announced a COVID fragment was detected in sewage in the Airlie Beach, Cannon Valley, Cannonvale, Cape Conway, Jubilee Pocket, Mandalay, Mount Rooper, and Shute Harbour wastewater treatment plant.
Whitsunday Regional Council has issued a statement reassuring residents and visitors that this does not necessarily mean there is COVID-19 in the Whitsunday community.
"We won’t know if there are undetected cases unless people with symptoms are tested.
The positive result simply means that at some point in the past two weeks someone has either been infectious or recovering from a recent infection. Infected people’s stools may contain viral fragments, and shedding can extend for several weeks beyond the person’s infectious period.
It’s important to step up testing to keep our community COVID free. If we don’t test, we won’t know. To avoid an outbreak and the restrictions which follow everyone is urged to play their part to keep the Whitsundays safe and open for business.
Wastewater sampling has commenced at a number of regional locations across Queensland. The sampling is part of a University of Queensland and Queensland Health research program to test sewage for traces of COVID-19 to support the public health response to the pandemic.
The project is being led by Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences, a collaboration between Queensland Health and the University of Queensland, with testing performed by CSIRO. The Mackay and Townsville Public Health Units are now working with the Communicable Diseases Branch to assess COVID-19 case data.
Importantly the virus fragment was detected in sewage and has nothing to do with the quality of our drinking water. Our water is safe to drink, to shower in and to use in cooking.
We understand detections like this can make people nervous about drinking water and beach swimming. Drinking water is treated before being delivered to your tap and remains safe to drink.
The virus is killed by usual sewage treatment processes before it is discharged to the environment, The wastewater treatment process is designed to inactivate (kill) or remove even the toughest microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa.
The fragment detected may have been a local or a visitor to the area, we may never know so it’s important not to jump to conclusions. What is important is that testing increases
A pop-up testing clinic has opened at the Airlie Beach lagoon carpark from 10am – 4pm until Sunday. An additional testing site will also open, and these details will be communicated once they are finalised. If you have any of these symptoms – get tested and isolated at home until the results are received. Respiratory symptoms are cough, sore throat and shortness of breath.
Other symptoms can include runny nose, headache, muscle or joint pains, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of sense of smell, altered sense of taste, loss of appetite and fatigue. We want to assure the community, as more information on this comes to hand we will continue to keep you updated."
What you can do?
Stay vigilant - Stay home from work if you are unwell, wash/sanitise your hands regularly, stay 1.5 metres from others, remember your cough etiquette by covering your coughs and sneezes and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth too often.
Whitsunday Regional Council is seeking feedback from residents in Hydeaway Bay, Dingo Beach and surrounds regarding two proposals for use of Open Space in the area:
• Proposal to clear vegetation near the Gloucester Sport & Recreation Facility
• Proposal to clear vegetation for a Walking / Cycling Track between Hydeaway Bay and Dingo Beach
To find out more and have your say, please visit Your Say Whitsunday - https://yoursay.whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au/cape-gloucester-ope…
Community Consultation will be open until 5pm, 6 October 2020. An online video information session will be held on 20 September and residents can register to attend via Your Say Whitsunday.
The Chief Health Officer has designated mass gatherings over several days of Schoolies a high risk event. That means organised events like concerts won’t proceed.
Gatherings in residences, including holiday units, will be limited to no more than 10 people statewide from November 21 to December 11.
Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said today "We understand how disappointing this is for school-leavers, but the safety of Queenslanders comes first and we cannot risk anyone contracting or spreading COVID-19.
"School-leavers should still celebrate their achievements by holidaying in Queensland and supporting local businesses and tourism operators"
Accommodation providers will be required to register guests as part of their COVID-safe plans.
Make sure you get all the latest info and goss on the fishing hot spots and what's biting where across the Whitsundays this weekend tomorrow (Friday) at 6.45am and 7.45am on Island FM Whitsundays! Every Friday and Saturday at 6.45am and 7.45am we present the Island FM Whitsundays fishing report with local fishing guru Mick Underwood from Reel Addiction Sport Fishing Whitsundays! Mick has the best info on Airlie, the islands, Bowen,Dingo Beach and everywhere in between! So join us for the weekly fishing report on Island FM Whitsundays - and if you have fishing tips we'd love to hear from you!(can't hear us on 88FM - isten from anywhere in the World - download the free Island FM Whitsundays app - https://apple.co/3gxZSTJ - or anytime here - https://bit.ly/32t51HM)
Whitsunday Regional Council are advising Whitsunday residents that paid parking will recommence in all council-owned car parks in Airlie Beach from Monday 31st August 2020.
Council will be offering a further discount to parking permits for each of the off-street paid parking areas until June 2021.
Application forms and associated fees can be found on Council’s website – https://bit.ly/32pFCyx
Anyone with enquiries can ring Council on 1300 972 753.
At about 10am on August 18, a retired Mount Pleasant resident was present at a local recreation club when they received a phone call which came close to completely ruining their retirement.
The male caller claimed to be calling from an Australian law enforcement agency and advised the resident that a warrant for their arrest existed linked to an alleged drug offence.
The resident queried the accuracy of the warrant and in a concerning development, the caller falsely stated that they were transferring the call to the Mackay Police Station.
The correct call number for the Mackay Police Station was in fact displayed on the victims phone. This is a practice known as caller ID spoofing, where scammers manipulate the information appearing on an incoming caller ID, often, as in this instance, using the names of known and trusted organisations in an attempt to get money or information for fraudulent purposes.
The resident spoke to another man claiming to be a Mackay police officer who confirmed the existence of the arrest warrant.
Already deeply concerned about the existence of an alleged arrest warrant, the resident was then told that her personal finances were at risk of being taken possession of by online hackers.
She received advice from the caller to transfer her funds into a specific safe guarded account for protection.
She was advised to transfer as much funds as possible to ensure it was not lost.
The resident was provided with instructions about precisely what to say to her financial institution employees when the money transfer was requested and warned not to discuss the matter with any other person otherwise there could be legal implications.
A warning was also given not to disconnect the call until the money transfer was complete.
The resident travelled to their financial institution and spoke with the staff members, all the while with the caller listening to the conversations.
Astute staff members at the financial institution were alert to the fact that the stated reasons for the very sizeable requested money transfer appeared to be suspicious.
Discussions between the staff members and the resident lead to a phone call to the local police.
During this phone call, the financial institution staff members and police were able to satisfy the resident that the call was malicious in nature and that no money transfer was required.
The scam caller would have heard this conversation take place.
Financial staff ended the phone call and blocked the number.
Mackay Police are extremely grateful to the financial staff members who were alert to the potential risks and took steps to prevent the loss of tens of thousands of dollars belonging to the resident.
All of which would have gone straight to the scam caller in an unknown location.