Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Govt scraps Kooralbyn COVID-19 isolation plans

The state government has scrapped plans to use a Kooralbyn resort as an isolation facility for COVID-19.

The Ramada Resort Kooralbyn Valley was proposed as an option for those at risk of infection by the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Following the resorts owner publishing the details of conversations had with the government about the potential use of the buildings, panic erupted within the township on social media.

In the following days, confusion arose about the details of what the resort would potentially be used for, if at all.

Now, Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the Ramada Resort would not be used as a novel coronavirus quarantine centre.

“Queensland Health continues to work closely with all levels of government, industry and the community to respond to this event and ensure all necessary plans are in place to protect the community,” Dr Young said.

“One of the measures being used to contain the threat of COVID-19 is ensuring that people who have travelled to at-risk areas, or who have been in contact with a confirmed case, are isolated from the general public for the 14-day incubation period.

“This is an important public health measure to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. Quarantine is a precautionary measure, it does not mean people are infected.

“While some people are able to quarantine in their own homes; in some circumstances, alternative arrangements are required for people who may not be able to support themselves appropriately.

“Ramada Resort Kooralbyn was initially identified as an option for offering a safe and secure location for people in that circumstance. However, the site is no longer being considered for use.

“We understand the community’s concerns around this step and have considered all feedback we have received throughout this process.”

Scenic Rim Regional Council Mayor, Greg Cristensen, held a forum with Kooralbyn residents regarding the virus, where it became apparent residents were largely not in favour.

Not just because of the proximity to those who may potentially have the virus, but because of the potential for Kooralbyn’s tourism image to be damaged.

The Mayor, on Monday, brought up a Mayoral Minute for council to request “that the Queensland Government Response Team remove Ramada Resort Kooralbyn Valley from further consideration.”

The request was one of a number made in the minute that was passed by councillors. 

“Council strongly requests that, prior to the Queensland Government Response Team engaging in any further investigations with commercial providers within the Scenic Rim Regional Council area in consideration of self-isolation locations for the COVID-19 health event, the Response Team enter into conversations with Council.”

The Mayor also said he was made aware of the resort potentially being used as an isolation facility on social media.

“On Saturday 8 February 2020, I was made aware of a social media post published by Ramada Resort Kooralbyn Valley that was creating anxiety across the Kooralbyn community. 

“It quickly became evident that this post overstated the level of dialogue that had been progressed with the relevant authorities.”

The final proposal adopted at the council meeting was to get help from other levels of government to repair the damage done to the reputation of the town done by the coronavirus announcement.

“Council seeks assistance from the Australian and Queensland Governments to commence development of a specific plan to remediate the reputational and immediate economic harm to the Scenic Rim region, and more broadly to Queensland, resulting from this event.”

State member for Scenic Rim Jon Krause, a vocal opponent of the proposal, said: “I’m pleased that the Mayor and Council have today come to my point of view.”

“A week ago I wrote to the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, calling on her to abandon this proposal for Kooralbyn.”

“It was plain to see from start that Kooralbyn residents would hold deep concerns about this entire process. The Kooralbyn community has been treated appallingly by the QLD Government.

"How could information like this be shared with a community via Facebook, from a private business? There are numerous reasons why Kooralbyn should not be utilised for an isolation facility, but after it leaked on Facebook via the resort it should have been abandoned immediately.”