Russian virus strain hits Qld quarantine

Three people have tested positive for coronavirus in quarantine hotels in Queensland.
Three people have tested positive for coronavirus in quarantine hotels in Queensland.

Two people have tested positive for the Russian strain of COVID-19 in Brisbane quarantine hotels, with another 75 guests now being tested for the virus.

Queensland Health says the two confirmed cases arrived on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Brisbane on February 17.

A third person, who was on the flight, tested positive for COVID-19 and is now undergoing genomic testing to see if it's the Russian strain.

Authorities say a further 74 travellers who were on that flight are now being retested and have been ordered to extend their 14-day quarantine period for another five days.

"As more variants emerge, we are taking a cautious approach. In some cases, this means we have further enhanced our quarantine requirements," Queensland Health said in a statement to AAP.

"We want to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the extended quarantine period, but these measures are necessary to protect Queenslanders."

The flight continued to New Zealand and Queensland authorities are speaking with NZ officials about a fourth traveller who later tested positive for COVID-19 in that country.

Queensland Health says the outbreak is contained in quarantine and the Russian virus strain is not particularly dangerous.

"The Russian variant is not considered a variant of concern, but as the variant is very new, we are remaining cautious while we learn more about its incubation period and transmissibility," it said.

There was an outbreak of the UK strain of the virus at Brisbane's hotel Grand Chancellor in January.

The cases included four guests and a hotel cleaner, who was later in the community resulting in Brisbane being ordered into a snap three-day lockdown.

That outbreak led to the Queensland government considering moving quarantine out of hotels in major population centres and into regional quarantine camps.

The Wagner Group wants to build a facility, which would host up to 1000 travellers and 300 staff, at Wellcamp Airport near Toowoomba.

But the federal government is refusing to support it without detailed information, and the state government says it's unable to provide more detailed information without in-principle support.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles has criticised the Commonwealth over its stance.

"It's just an excuse, there is more than sufficient information for them to at least provide in-principle support for the concept," the deputy premier told reporters.

Mr Miles said regional quarantine facilities would help prevent community outbreaks in capital cities and potential lockdowns and border closures.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will bring up the plan again at national cabinet on Friday, with Victoria also considering a similar quarantine facility at an airport.

She is set for a frosty meeting with NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian as well, with her state refusing to pay a $30 million bill for 7000 Queenslanders who quarantined in Sydney hotels.

Mr Miles said 6000 NSW residents had quarantined in Queensland, but they had no plan to send their own bill the other way.

"We haven't because that wasn't our intention. If we were going to send an invoice to anyone we'd probably send it to Scott Morrison. He's the one who really should be paying for this," the deputy premier said.

Australian Associated Press