The NRL grand final is going ahead in Brisbane, despite Queensland’s latest COVID-19 scare, with a final decision about the event expected to be announced on the day.
It comes after authorities announced four new locally acquired COVID cases had been detected in Brisbane.
The cases include two people who were infectious in the Brisbane community for several days.
The grand final decider is being played at Brisbane’s Lang Park on Sunday.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she was not concerned about the event at this stage but would closely monitor the situation.
“Not today and we’ll just see what happens over the next few days,” Dr Young said.
She said she would review the situation if large numbers of cases associated with the two new clusters are detected.
She said a decision will be made on the morning of the event.
“I will review this every single day and I will take the most up-to-date information,” she said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also said there were no plans to relocate the game “at this stage”.
“We’ll be updating the community every single day,” she said.
The NRL has announced they have a contingency plan to move the decider to Townsville if needed.
‘A potential spreading event’
Epidemiologist and member of the World Health Organisation’s expert advisory panel in the response to COVID-19, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, said the game could potentially be a spreading event for Queensland.
“This is a potential tipping point, it’s a potential super spreading event,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane.
“You never know who may attend… from an outbreak management perspective, a highly cautious management perspective, you could do several things.”
Professor McLaws said the game could be postponed or relocated if spectators were to be given rapid COVID tests.
“You’d have to reduce the number that would go and that would be a very difficult decision,” she said.
“Who do you say stays at home?
“The alternative … would be to postpone it, just while the authorities determine how far this may or may not have spread.”
She said the Delta variant had a shorter incubation period compared to other strains.
“So let’s say five days is an average incubation period, you need to ensure that you didn’t see [any transmission] for 10 days,” she said.
“But apparently you want this game to go ahead on the weekend, which is less than the incubation period.”
Professor McLaws said it was a big decision that the authorities would have to make.
“I’m not making it, but I’m just giving you the epidemiology of outbreak management,” she said.
“It doesn’t take a lot to spark a fourth wave … you’ve got to decide what’s more important.”
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