The Courier-Mail

ENEMIES OF THE STATE

Outrage as deceptive teens cause COVID chaos

- JESSICA MARSZALEK

TWO 19-year-old girls with COVID-19 have been fined $4000 each after travelling to Melbourne and lying to authoritie­s about where they’d been.

One of the girls, Olivia Winnie Muranga (left) – a cleaner at the now-closed Parklands Christian College – called in sick on Friday after days of feeling ill. Despite this she continued to socialise, visiting restaurant­s and bars in Ipswich and Brisbane, according to authoritie­s. It is believed she even went shopping after she took a COVID test on Monday.

Her travel companion Diana Lasu (right) has also tested positive. A third woman – the 22year-old sister of one of the girls who did not travel to Melbourne – also tested positive to the virus late yesterday, sparking fears of a second wave of the pandemic. Authoritie­s said the new cases are a “perfect storm”, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she is “absolutely furious”.

TWO teenage girls with COVID-19 have been fined $4000 each after travelling to Melbourne for a holiday and lying to authoritie­s about where they’d been, sparking fears of a second wave of the pandemic.

The 19-year-olds became the state’s first positive COVID-19 cases outside quarantine since May when Olivia Winnie Muranga – a cleaner at the now-closed Parklands Christian College – got a coronaviru­s test on Monday after days of feeling ill. The test came back positive on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning her travel companion Diana Lasu also tested positive.

Both women were last night fined $4000 for making false declaratio­ns on their border paperwork, along with another travel companion, who is awaiting her COVID-19 test results.

A third woman – the 22-year-old sister of one of the COVID-positive girls who did not travel to Melbourne – also tested positive to the virus late yesterday, inadverten­tly forcing the closure of Chatswood Hills State School where she works at the PCYC after school care.

Authoritie­s are bracing for a southside cluster as contact tracers continue to chart the paths of Muranga and Lasu through Logan and Brisbane while showing signs of the highly-infectious virus.

Hundreds of tests taken yesterday across the region, including at a popup clinic at Parklands Christian College, are expected back today and will reveal if the virus has already travelled.

Police have also launched a criminal investigat­ion into how the girls evaded Queensland’s strict border restrictio­ns that require everyone to isolate at a hotel if they have been to any COVID hot spots like Victoria. Part of their investigat­ion will be into how their flights were booked from Melbourne to Brisbane, with a short layover at Sydney airport, and whether they used fake names and contact details on their border declaratio­n passes.

It’s also understood authoritie­s are investigat­ing whether the women had been at a party during their stay, broken up by authoritie­s who discovered about 20 people gathered at a shortterm rental in Melbourne’s CBD and issued them fines equalling $30,000.

It’s understood Ms Muranga went to work at Parklands Christian College – where her mother also works – for two days before calling in sick on Friday and visiting the doctor on Saturday, when she was told to immediatel­y get tested.

Instead, she continued to socialise in Ipswich and Brisbane, going out to dinner at a Thai restaurant in Springfiel­d on Sunday and a noodle restaurant and dessert and cocktail bar in Southbank on Monday, according to health authoritie­s.

Finally getting tested on Monday, it’s understood Ms Muranga was out in the community before her positive test result came back on Tuesday, with customers at the African Grocery Shop at Woodridge and the Grand Plaza shopping centre at Browns Plains warned they may have been in contact with a COVID case on Monday.

Authoritie­s have described the new cases as a “perfect storm”, with a large number of public places visited, the girls living in large households of up to 10 people, and authoritie­s working to provide informatio­n in various languages to the African Australian community. Authoritie­s are also examining whether the girls visited the Free Pentecosta­l Church of Australia in Springfiel­d. All aged care homes in the Metro South region have been ordered to lock down as a precaution­ary measure against potential community spread, prohibitin­g all visitors, instigatin­g temperatur­e checks and prohibitin­g staff from working across facilities.

At least 15 close contacts of the COVID cases will be kept in hotel quarantine and the infectious girls are at the PA Hospital. Scores of others from both schools were also last night in home quarantine after being ruled as close contacts of the three positive cases. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there would be a “thorough police investigat­ion”.

“I’m absolutely furious that this has happened,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “These two people have gone to Victoria, have come back and have given misleading informatio­n to authoritie­s.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said it was “very, very disappoint­ed” in the “reckless” behaviour of the women who travelled to Melbourne, and implored people to get tested immediatel­y and isolate if they had any hint of symptoms.

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 ?? Pictures: Tara Croser ?? Olivia Winnie Muranga (main picture) and Diana Lasu, both 19, have tested positive to COVID-19 after returning from Melbourne, sparking mass testing at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge (far left), where Ms Muranga works as a cleaner.
Pictures: Tara Croser Olivia Winnie Muranga (main picture) and Diana Lasu, both 19, have tested positive to COVID-19 after returning from Melbourne, sparking mass testing at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge (far left), where Ms Muranga works as a cleaner.
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