Virus victim had party days before death
Australia's youngest coronavirus victim, Nathan Turner, held a party in his Queensland home just days before his death, sparking fears multiple people could have been exposed to the virus.
The 30-year-old was found unresponsive in his home in Blackwater by his fiance, Simone Devon, when she returned home from work on Tuesday afternoon.
He could not be revived and was declared deceased at the scene.
Despite having respiratory symptoms for weeks, Mr Turner and Ms Devon hosted a party in their home last Friday, according to 7 News.
Mr Turner died just four days later, with tests conducted after his death returning a positive result for COVID-19.
Health authorities have been scrambling to test anyone who may have come into contact with Mr Turner and have so far tracked down 20 people who were in close contact with him.
Of those people 18 have tested negative, with the other two tests due to be carried out on Thursday.
Ms Devon had shown symptoms of the virus but had previously tested negative.
She will be tested again and is currently isolated in her home.
Three testing clinics have opened in the coal mining town and sewage from its 5000 residents will be screened to determine infection levels in the community.
More than 120 Blackwater locals have been tested for the virus but Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says that figure was disappointingly low.
"There is a significant fly-in, fly-out workforce so all of that's being investigated as well," Dr Young said.
Mr Turner is the youngest person in Australia to die from COVID-19, with the national death toll now at 103.
It is understood the 30-year-old had been suffering some seizures and had been on workers compensation since November.
Locals in the mining town gathered on Wednesday night to pay their respects to Mr Turner.
People gathered at the end of their driveways at 6pm with candles, with Ms Devon's family saying they were "blown away" by the support from the community.
"We are overwhelmed and very grateful," Simone's mother Lorraine told The Courier Mail.
"We never expected this."
The woman who organised the vigil, Annette Boase, told the publication that she wanted Ms Devon to know the community was thinking of her.
"We're doing this for her and for Nathan's family so they know they're not really alone," she said.
"It won't be any easier on her but she'll know that we care and that we're behind her."
There is still confusion around how Mr Turner contracted the virus as he had not been overseas recently and had not travelled outside Blackwater since February.
This was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the town.
Investigators are considering whether his case could be linked to a Rockhampton nurse who
tested positive for the virus earlier this month after she broke government enforced lockdown rules to travel to the town.
The woman reportedly told contact tracers she made the 400km round trip to "see a sunset".
However, Health Minister Stephen Miles has been advised that is unlikely because Mr Turner developed symptoms before the nurse visited the town.
"My advice, via the chief health officer, is that the timing of that trip means it's unlikely she is the source of the infection, but it's possible," he said. The woman is the same nurse who sparked the lockdown of a Rockhampton aged care centre earlier this month.
The nurse is suspended and under investigation after she continued working while showing symptoms.
On Tuesday Deputy CMO Paul Kelly refused to comment on whether there could be a connection between the two cases but said it was worrying someone in such a remote area fell ill.
"It shows that there is community transmission of some sort," he told reporters.
"We haven't had many people in rural areas in any state and so at this point in the pandemic it is a concern.
"I understand that he had been sick for some weeks and I guess he hadn't assumed that it was COVID-19. It is another very strong reminder to all of us at this point that if anyone has any symptoms that are of a respiratory virus.
Originally published as Virus victim had party days before death