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  • Outbreak halts admissions at Qld hospital

    Author: AAP

Admissions have been stopped at a far north Queensland hospital after patients and staff began showing symptoms of a respiratory illness.

Staff and patients at a far north Queensland hospital are showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, less than two months after an outbreak that coincided with the deaths of seven elderly people.

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The Herberton Hospital, near Cairns, has stopped taking new admissions pending test results from three staff and three patients.

The aged-care facility was investigated by the state's chief health officer after seven patients died amid an outbreak of human metapneumovirus (hMPV) earlier in the year.

Only one of the patients who died tested positive for the virus and four others showed symptoms.

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Authorities say the two incidents are not thought to be related and staff have acted quickly to reduce the risk of further cases.

"There has been a lot of respiratory infection in the community this year," infectious diseases physician Dr Trent Yarwood said.

"There is no additional risk to members of the public."

Communal activities at the 38-bed facility have also been temporarily stopped pending results.

Dr Yarwood says people should wash their hands and stay away from work if they're unwell to stop the spread of infections.

Authorities were last week cleared of any wrongdoing in their response to the first outbreak at the hospital.

Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young noted the facility, which is only airconditioned in communal areas, is more than 30 years old but well maintained and clean for its age.

She also said staff at the hospital had shown a commitment to quality care.

All seven deaths have been reported to the coroner.

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