Australia

Qld COVID trio to face court

The women health authorities have blamed Queensland’s most recent COVID-19 clusters on will face court for the first time on Monday after they allegedly misled to police upon their return to the state.

Diana Lasu, Olivia Muranga and Haja Timbo are all facing charges of fraud and providing false or misleading documents after they allegedly flew into Brisbane in July, having spent time in Melbourne, misleading authorities about where they had been.

Ms Lasu and Ms Muranga contracted COVID-19 while in Victoria in July and infected at least three other people and sparked numerous contact tracing alerts.

The third woman did not contract the virus.

At the time, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was “furious”.

It will be alleged the three women flew from Melbourne to Sydney before arriving in Queensland and, upon their arrival on July 21, did not declare to police that they had been in Victoria.

At the time, Queensland’s borders were closed only to Victoria.

Ms Lasu and Ms Muranga spent days in the community while infectious, shutting down schools and shopping centres, and have been linked to southeast Queensland's’ biggest cluster in months, which sparked outbreaks in the Queensland Corrective Services Academy, Brisbane Youth Detention Centre, and Ipswich Hospital.

If convicted all three women are facing a maximum penalty of five years behind bars and a fine of more than $13,000 as they front Brisbane Magistrates Court on charges of fraud and providing false or misleading documents.

One of the women worked at Parklands Christian College as a cleaner for three days while infectious, prompting it to close while all students and staff underwent mass testing.

One of the women’s sisters became infected, resulting in the after hours school care facility she worked at to close.

Two diners at a restaurant at Sunnybank, who ate at the same time as one of the women, also contracted the virus.

Thousands of Queenslanders came forward to get tested in the aftermath.

Queensland’s chief health officer has said on numerous occasions that the state’s latest cluster, which was first picked up in a woman in her 70s who worked at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre, is almost certainly linked to the two infected women.

While health authorities still haven’t determined the missing link between the cluster of more than 50 people and the women who returned from Melbourne, Dr Jeannette Young said she was confident they were connected.

“That’s the most likely scenario and even more likely after doing more testing out there and not finding any other chains of transmission,” Dr Young said earlier this month.

“We didn’t find the first cases in this cluster, we found a subsequent case and that’s why it’s taken longer to get on top of it.”

Queensland’s latest cluster forced gatherings to be limited to just 10 people in metropolitan Brisbane, Ipswich, and the Gold Coast as well as restrictions placed on aged care homes and hospitals.

The region marked 14 days of no new community transmission late last week, sparking an easing of restrictions; however, Dr Young has warned against complacency.

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