SUPER SLEUTHS: (L-R) Dr Nick Smoll, Connie Slater, Amanda Wyatt, Dr Gulam Khandaker, Jacina Walker, Diane Krenske, Dr Chi Chimbare, Andrea Robinson, Michelle Nyendwa, Margie Bauman, Kalie Green, Odwumi Adegbija, Paul Florian, Jemmah Newell, Melanie Holgate, Dr Arif Khan, Jane Manderson and Peter McKee.
SUPER SLEUTHS: (L-R) Dr Nick Smoll, Connie Slater, Amanda Wyatt, Dr Gulam Khandaker, Jacina Walker, Diane Krenske, Dr Chi Chimbare, Andrea Robinson, Michelle Nyendwa, Margie Bauman, Kalie Green, Odwumi Adegbija, Paul Florian, Jemmah Newell, Melanie Holgate, Dr Arif Khan, Jane Manderson and Peter McKee.

Humble heroes help CQ become COVID-19 free

SMALL but effective, that is how a team of "super sleuths" behind Central Queensland's Public Health Unit have been described.

The unit of doctors, nurses and environmental health officers was yesterday hailed for their relentless efforts to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Central Queensland.

Team leader Dr Gulam Khandake said both the virus' severity and rapid growth had the team quickly bolster from its initial 10 bodies to 30.

Its primary responsibility involved contact tracing and in its early crisis response developed a specialist call centre so adequate equipment was accessible.

Despite no local transmission and zero active cases for the region after the recovery of the eighth confirmed, Mr Khandake said the team would not be celebrating prematurely.

Dr Khandake uses both his decades-long work in infectious disease and PhD on the epidemiology of pandemic influenza to guide the equally-skilled unit.

"We have one of the most experienced environmental health officers in the state in Paul Florian, and very experienced public health nurses including Jacina Walker, Amanda Wyatt and Candise Bradshaw, as well as Dr Nick Smoll who is a medical doctor and a health informatics expert," he said.

The level of dedication and teamwork, Mr Khandake admitted, reached far beyond just contract tracing.

"[It's been] from public health planning to supporting local clinicians and the local community by providing the most up-to-date public health information and guidelines."

"These are surreal times, but when you have a good team and they show real passion for their work it is very rewarding.

"Our team has worked long hours every day without a break and remain on call for week after week."

At the end of the day, he said, the unit's motivation stemmed from a desire to help keep Central Queensland communities and their loved ones safe amid the global pandemic.

CQ Health chief executive Steve Williamson shared his admiration of the team's success - particularly after it was awarded Team of The Year at 2019 CQ Health staff awards.

"Nothing seems to faze Gulam and his team. We watched their careful and precise work in action last year when they responded to our first local dengue outbreak," Mr Williamson said.

"Time and time again they show their professionalism and dedication to the health and safety of our community."

Mr Williamson extended his gratitude to the team, noting their humility while playing such a pivotal role in Central Queensland's management of COVID-19.

Aside from leading his busy CQ team in the COVID-19 crisis response, Dr Gulam has also begun a fundraiser for disabled children in Bangladesh.

He hopes to create a food bank program for the children.

To support his efforts, head to https://www.gofundme.com/f/food-bank-for-disabled-children-in-bangladesh?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet



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