A COVID-19 alert has been issued for 50 Queensland suburbs after fragments of the virus were detected in local wastewater.
Queensland Health says fragments were found at the Cairns North, Marlin Coast, Fairfield and Mackay South waterwater plants.
The treatment plants take in 50 suburbs, with residents in affected areas now urged to undergo testing for COVID-19.
Queensland Chief Health Officer, Jeannette young said she was concerned about the possible emergence of new overseas variants of the virus.
“It is critical we detect any cases that we may not be aware of as quickly as possible through our testing system, to contain any potential spread,” Dr Young said.
“We are concerned by the new variants that are emerging overseas that are more contagious than previous variants we have seen.”
“It is also possible that this detection relates to previous COVID-19 cases that can shed viral fragments for a couple of months after they are no longer contagious.”
The health alert came just hours after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced new restrictions on gatherings across the state.
From 1am tomorrow, Queenslanders will be allowed to hot up to 100 people at home and 500 outdoors.
Limits on social distancing at beachfront campsites will be lifted, with elevator limits will increase from four people to six.