Friend of man missing in outback Queensland tests positive to COVID-19

The search for a man missing in outback Queensland has taken a bizarre twist, with one of the people he was camping with since testing positive to COVID-19.Key points:At least one person who had been camping with missing man Jeremiah Rivers has returned a positive COVID testIt is unclear if the man contracted the virus before or after he returned to NSWBulloo Shire Mayor John Ferguson is urging the community to remain calmAt least one person who had been camping with missing man Jeremiah Rivers in south-west Queensland has tested positive to COVID-19, after the group was sent back to New South Wales by a local police officer on Tuesday.The group were intercepted by a Thargomindah police officer near the Noccundra Hotel, about 130 kilometres west of Thargomindah, following a suspicious vehicle report. It’s unclear if the man contracted COVID-19 before or after the group returned to New South Wales.Police say the campers travelled back to Tibooburra, just south of the New South Wales border, and reported Mr Rivers as missing over the phone on Tuesday afternoon.The police officer who intercepted their vehicle, who has been active in the small town of Thargomindah in the days following the potential exposure, is isolating and awaiting his COVID-19 test result.Queensland Health and Queensland Police Service have been contacted for comment. Exposure is considered low risk: MayorBulloo Shire Mayor John Ferguson said it was vital the people of Thargomindah did not panic about the potential exposure.”There’s a lot of panic over nothing,” Cr Ferguson said. “The sergeant took a bloke into New South Wales, when they got him into New South Wales they tested him and he’s tested positive. John Ferguson is calling for remote communities like his to be vaccinated against COVID.(ABC Western Qld: Danielle O’Neal)”At this stage [the sergeant] is very low risk. Everyone has been outside, no one’s been in the cars together.”Until we get the results everything is just going to be normal.”Just under 56 per cent of the Bulloo shire, that encompasses Thargomindah and Noccundra, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”Not happy about that at all,” Cr Ferguson said. Jeremiah Rivers was last seen near Noccundra on Sunday morning.(Supplied)”We want to get vaccinated. We’re ready to do it, but it only comes down on the flying doctor and that’s only every three weeks they come here with that.”We want to get done but I don’t know whether Dr Jeannette Young, the CHO, and all that know where Thargomindah is, or the Premier, but we border New South Wales and South Australia, so we’re in an area where people can get through that border any time at all, come here and they’ll wipe this little community out.”We’ve got no Bunnings here to have a sausage and a jab.” Emergency services have been using the Noccundra Hotel as a staging post for the search of missing man Jeremiah Rivers.(ABC Western Qld: Dan Prosser)The mayor said the potential exposure highlights how important it was to boost vaccination rates in border communities. “This just shows you how quick this can happen, the borders down here they’re only wire fences, you can cut that and you’re gone,” he said.The search for Mr Rivers is expected to continue today, despite the COVID scare at the Noccundra Hotel, which has been used as a staging post for emergency services since Wednesday. SES crews have travelled from western Queensland towns including Charleville, Quilpie, and Yowah to assist in the search. They are expected to remain in Noccundra until Queensland Health provide further advice.Find more local news

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