The COVID-19 virus has been found in the Princess Alexandra Hospital's Ward 5D despite a "thorough" clean carried out last week.

The ward was closed and a deep clean ordered after two separate clusters, affecting four health workers and 19 other people, were linked to the infectious disease ward.

Contractors engaged through Queensland's Department of Housing and Public Works cleaned the ward last week.

But a Metro South Hospital and Health Service spokeswoman said further cleaning would be carried out today after testing still showed COVID-19 virus in the ward.

 

Princess Alexandra Hospital, where two COVID-19 outbreaks emerged in March. Picture: Dan Peled.
Princess Alexandra Hospital, where two COVID-19 outbreaks emerged in March. Picture: Dan Peled.

Microbiologist and infectious disease physician Paul Griffin said the ability to detect virus after cleaning, did not necessarily correlate with its ability to infect.

"It may have been residual genomic material or very small amounts of residual virus rather than it being enough to infect," Associate Professor Griffin said.

"But I think it is interesting to find virus after cleaning."

Prof Griffin called on Metro South Health to provide more detail about how the ward was cleaned.

"This is a very significant event," he said. "To make sure we can stop it happening again, if there's a deficiency in cleaning, whether it be the method, or the agent used, for example, then we all need to know about it."

Griffith University infectious disease expert Nigel McMillan described the virus finding after cleaning as "curious".

"Does that suggest there's a huge load of virus that's been there that's still even present to a lesser degree after cleaning?" he said.

"The virus itself won't be viable. The virus is dead on most surfaces after two or three days. But I guess they want to see that their cleaning has been effective and clearly, if you've still got virus RNA hanging around, then you need to do some more."

The Princess Alexandra Hospital clusters originated from two patients with the highly infectious UK variant of the virus who were cared for in the same isolation room inside Ward 5D at different times.

Genomic sequencing traced the outbreaks back to two international travellers - a man who flew into Queensland from Europe and another man who had returned from India.

The two clusters - one involving 13 people and the other, 10 people - resulted in about 580 PA Hospital staff having to go into 14 days' quarantine to minimise the potential for further transmission.

Ward 5D remains closed.

Originally published as PA Hospital COVID shock as deep clean fails to eliminate virus



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