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Covid-infected Strathpine man wrongly accused of 'throwing house party' slams Queensland government

Lachlan Simpson, from south-east Queensland's Moreton Bay region, was falsely accused of ignoring orders to self-isolate and holding a party at his home

A Covid-positive man who was wrongly accused by the Queensland government of throwing a party for 25 friends while waiting for his test results has hit out at health officials over the embarrassing mix-up.

Queensland Health claimed on Saturday Lachlan Simpson, 25, ignored orders to self-isolate and instead held a party at his home in the Moreton Bay suburb of Strathpine a day earlier.

Mr Simpson was a close contact of a 26-year-old Stafford man from Brisbane's north who tested positive to the highly-infectious UK variant of Covid-19.

But the 'party' was in fact a meeting of just five people at his home - four of whom were housemates - while a gathering and pub crawl happened two weeks ago.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk admitted on Monday she may have been forced to introduce even tougher Covid-19 restrictions had officials not realised their mistake. 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) has admitted a mistake was made but neither she or state health authorities have issued an apology

'Thankfully, the police were able to go and double check and rule that [party] out and speak to the individual and spoke to the neighbours,' she told the Today show.

'I want to thank both the authorities for working closely together to rule that out.'

She did not apologise though for the mistake a day after Health Minister Yvette D'Ath also refused to do.

Mr Simpson said he believed the government had muddled the dates after he told them he hosted a party two weeks ago - likely well before he was infectious.

'I told them that I had a gathering two weeks prior to me getting tested and somehow they’ve taken that day and moved it forward to Friday,' he told 9News.

'We went on a pub crawl the next day (after the party two weeks ago) but I think at that point I had no symptoms at all.'

The Strathpine man said he was stunned to discover he had been accused of flouting self-isolation rules. 

Mr Simpson said he believed the government had muddled up the dates after he told them he hosted a party two weeks earlier

'My heart’s been racing for the last 24 hours,' he said. 'I didn’t have a party with 25 people.'  

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath - who revealed the mix-up on Sunday - said the information they provided the public was 'given by the man himself' while assisting contact tracers. 

But she admitted there is a possibility that authorities misunderstood the information he provided. 

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said authorities were only told the information they received about Mr Simpson was wrong on Sunday morning

She said the update that the information was wrong only came through on Sunday morning.  

'I understand that as time has gone on, and overnight, there has been further investigation, an independent investigation from what the gentleman had said, whether it was a misunderstanding at the time or what it was, I can't tell you, ' Ms D'ath said.

'But that's what the health officials who originally spoke to this gentleman, when they first picked him up, that is what they understood had been said and that had to be acted on quickly.'

Ms Palaszczuk on March 15 after a doctor at Brisbane's Princess Alexandra hospital tested positive to the virus. She said police discovered the error after they went to 'double check' the facts with Mr Simpson and his neighbours

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said it was 'inflammatory' to refer to the gathering on Friday night as a party.

He said there was 'no evidence' anybody in attendance committed an offence.

The 25 people first identified as being at the party were initially forced to self-isolate, but there are now just five people who are undergoing mandatory quarantine.  

It is understood most of the people at the gathering and now in isolation were hia housemates.  

Ms D'Ath asked people to refrain from threatening and abusing people online as mistakes can occasionally happen, but said the outcome was 'extremely fortunate'.

'That the numbers are far lower and it is contained to predominantly housemates, that is a good outcome, much better outcome than what we thought was occurring yesterday,' she said.

The Sunshine State was put on high alert on Friday after a 26-year-old Stafford man, from Brisbane's north, tested positive to the highly infectious UK varient of the virus. Pictured: Two people wear face masks

The public are urged to continue coming forward to seek testing. Pictured: People lining up at a testing clinic in Brisbane on January 8, 2021

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk closed aged care centres, hospitals and prisons to visitors in Brisbane in the wake of the outbreak (pictured, testing in February)

'It is disappointing that we have ended up in this situation, but we also have to act on the information that we have at the time.' 

Dr Young said the scare is a reminder that Queensland is not out of the woods yet and that Covid still poses a major risk.

She said she would not make any promises regarding potential future lockdowns as she urged people to come forward and get tested.

'I cannot rule out anything but I'm very hopeful if we do our bit, which is to come forward and get tested when you are sick, as our first case did. He came forward while I'm sure he was thinking this can't possibly be COVID and tested positive. So we just need people to not make any assumptions,' she said.

Dr Young said the scare is a reminder that Queensland is not out of the woods yet and that Covid still poses a major risk as she urged people to seek testing. Pictured: A drive through testing clinic in Brisbane back in January

The state recorded three new cases of Covid on Sunday, including one within the community.

The new case is the brother of the 26-year-old man who sparked the fears of an outbreak when he tested positive on Thursday.  

Dr Young explained on Sunday the brother is likely the 'missing link' contact tracers have been searching for. 

Early indications suggest the virus was in his system longer than his brother and that he has entirely recovered, suggesting he was infected first and passed the virus on. 

Authorities are investigating whether he came into contact or had any connection with a doctor from the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane on March 13.

Genomic sequencing confirmed that his brother had the same strain as the doctor, and Queensland Health say the cases are likely linked, but authorities are still scrambling to work out how. 

Some other states have quickly imposed restrictions on travel from Queensland (pictured: people arriving in Brisbane from Sydney in December) 

Ms Palasczczuk did not make any reference to future lockdowns or further restrictions as a result of this cluster during Sunday's press conference.

On Saturday, Queensland Health announced personal visits to hospitals, aged care facilities, prisons and disability accommodation within Brisbane City and Morteton Bay would be temporarily suspended.

This will be reviewed on Monday.   

Several new locations have been added to the long list of venues on alert after Covid-positive cases attended while potentially infectious, dating back more than a week.

Black Hops Brewery in East Brisbane and Eatons Hill Hotel were both exposed to the virus on Saturday, March 20.

Authorities are investigating whether the latest confirmed case came into contact or had any connection with a doctor from the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane on March 13

QUEENSLAND VENUES ON ALERT 

Anyone who has been to the following venues in the specified time frames must get tested for Covid: 

Saturday March 20

Shinobi Ramen Noodle shop Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre, Carindale 12pm - 2.16pm 

Market Organics (store only), Newmarket 2.45pm to 3.45pm

Baskin and Robbins, Everton Park 8pm

Sunday March 21

Genki Market, Alderley  10.30am to 10.46am

Mamma’s Italian Restaurant, Redcliffe 12.40pm to 3.10pm

Monday March 22

Strathpine Plaza Shopping Centre, Strathpine 3.43pm-3.49pm 

Guzman and Gomez, Stafford 12.20 to 12.25pm

Bunnings, Stafford 12.40 to 12.50pm

Tuesday March 23

Lawnton Fruit Market, Lawnton 1.57pm-2.05pm

Poolwerx Strathpine, Strathpine 3.15pm-3.57pm

Wednesday March 24

Hungry Jacks Strathpine 7.47pm (Drive through)

Lawton Country Markets, Lawnton 2.36pm-2.43pm 

Thursday March 25

Ceres Pizza Café, Strathpine 7.00pm-7.58pm

Aldi, Stafford 8.30am to 8.45am

Nundah Respiratory Clinic, Nundah 11.15am to 11.40am

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