Qld apologises to family of 'virus' man

Nathan Turner, 30, was inititally believed to have been Australia's youngest COVID-19 victim.
Nathan Turner, 30, was inititally believed to have been Australia's youngest COVID-19 victim.

The grieving family of a Queensland man who tested positive then negative for coronavirus will never know if he was really infected, authorities say.

Nathan Turner, 30, tested positive after he died last week in the small town of Blackwater.

The results sparked a full-scale health response, with fever clinics set up and locals urged to get tested immediately.

The state government even announced the town's sewage would be tested to determine if the virus was prevalent. So far there have been no other cases.

Mr Turner's initial positive result also meant his partner was forced into isolation, leaving her to grieve his loss alone.

But late on Monday, the coroner advised subsequent tests had returned negative results.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said Mr Turner's family will never know the truth.

"There are two potential answers here. One is that it was a false positive. The other is that it was a true positive and we won't know which it was," Dr Young told reporters on Tuesday.

"But I am confident about the actions that were taken on that night to protect the community of Blackwater."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she felt for Mr Turner's loved ones, but the government had to take the initial positive test on face value.

The decision was backed by federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who said officials did the right thing with the information they had.

"Not to have tested the population with the evidence they had would not have been the right thing," he said.

"None of this brings him back, so his family, his friends, they still have to grieve.

"But they are now able to grieve without the extra weight."

Mr Turner had underlying health issues and displayed flu-like symptoms for weeks before he died. A coroner will determine what killed him.

Earlier, Deputy Premier and Health Minister Stephen Miles offered an apology to Mr Turner's family, and expressed regret for the anxiety Blackwater residents suffered.

"We have to treat every positive test as though it is a positive case," he said.

"However, I would like to personally apologise to his partner and his family for any distress that our actions in responding rapidly has caused them. I know it's been incredibly distressing for them."

In trying to explain Mr Turner's contradictory tests Dr Young said it was extremely rare for there to be a false positive test.

She said the results were compromised by one sample contaminated with excessive blood from the post mortem process.

An unnamed nurse who had coronavirus and travelled to Blackwater before Mr Turner died found herself at the centre of speculation that she might have infected him.

The same nurse has been suspended from a Rockhampton nursing home after she continued to work while sick and awaiting coronavirus test results.

The government has accused her of repeatedly changing her story about her movements.

Dr Young repeated that position on Tuesday.

The nurse remains under investigation.

She's admitted to taking a road trip to Blackwater but has told investigators she did not get out of her car.

Queensland recorded one new coronavirus case overnight, taking the state's total active cases to five.

Dr Young said the case was a 41-year-old woman who arrived on a flight from Africa. She was infectious while on the plane and travelled through multiple countries to get home.

She and all other passengers who arrived in Queensland have been in quarantine since they arrived.

Australian Associated Press