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FIFO workers from PNG force Covid emergency

Dr Don Mackie
Cairns Hospital director Dr Don Mackie says the hospital is treating six mine workers who have flown from PNG (Kristy Sexton-McGrath - ABC)

| ABC Far North

CAIRNS - One of the biggest hospitals in Far North Queensland has declared a ‘code yellow’ emergency, following an influx of Covid-19 patients from Papua New Guinea.

The hospital is treating six patients from PNG — all fly-in fly-out mine workers who live in Cairns.

Tuesday’s code yellow declaration indicates an internal emergency, with the hospital nearing capacity.

Hospital and Health Service executive director Dr Don Mackie said the six patients, combined with a record 263 patients presenting to the emergency department last weekend, had placed ‘extraordinary pressure’ on health staff.

"They [Covid patients] all require highly specialised nursing and specialised areas, " Dr Mackie said.

"Six or seven beds doesn't sound like a lot but they are in specific areas, they are in highly specialised negative pressure rooms that reduce the risk of cross-infection from those patients.

“It [also] impinges on the other functions of the hospital. We have to move people around to other wards.”

"They've all come from hotel quarantine so the system is working as it should do, but all of those factors combine to put extra pressure on the hospital," Dr Mackie said.

He said everyone that tests positive for Covid while in hotel quarantine is required to be taken to hospital, even if they are feeling well.

Ok Tedi Mining announced it was stopping flights into Cairns after several of its workers tested positive for Covid in a Cairns hotel during quarantine.

The Pacific Hotel in Cairns is the chief quarantine point for overseas travellers returning to Cairns.


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