Young people will make or break Queensland’s pandemic fate
When two COVID-19 positive teenagers have been on the loose in South East Queensland for eight days, that makes for a huge challenge for contact tracers, a former Queensland Health tracer warns.
"Young people are the ones that can tip this matter either way. Their actions are what will determine if we can get this outbreak under control," Dr Lisa Bricknall, who now teaches public health and the mechanics of contact tracing at Central Queensland University said.
"Older people have got the social distancing message and are generally doing the right thing. Young people are the ones that are out socialising and with restrictions eased have had a taste of freedom and complacency has set in."
Dr Bricknall said there was so much misinformation that COVID-19 was not real or posed no danger to the young.
"That is a problem. Young people can die. And while most may not be hit as hard as older people they are spreaders and putting others at risk. This generation should be the focus now. At the beginning of the pandemic the elderly were very much on our minds," she said.
The doctor reveals that the state's force of highly-trained contact tracers has been invisible to Queenslanders before the pandemic hit. Now they are front and centre of the fight to contain the COVID-19 virus and are working around the clock to save lives.
"We have always been there behind the scenes working on foodborne or waterborne disease prevention but now those same contact tracers have sped into response mode and have a huge challenge ahead in unprecedented conditions," Dr Bricknall said.
The expert said that the next two to three weeks would tell the tale as to whether the cases in south east Queensland have been contained.
"It's not easy to predict as modelling in cases like this does not feature in human nature. Can we trust the information given? Will something come out of left field? As one teenage girl visited many social locations it depends on the amount of time spent in those places. The longer you are in the presence of a positive person the higher the chances of infection," Dr Bricknall said.
The expert praises the Queensland Government for their fast actions on closing the border.
"That has made all the difference to us," she said.
Originally published as Young people will make or break Queensland's pandemic fate