Travelling school children key to Brisbane lockdown transmission

A QUT education expert who researchers how information moves through children’s social networks says it’s likely that COVID-19 will follow the same path around Brisbane.

Dr Naomi Barnes says the centrality of schools in the Brisbane outbreak means the virus might move through the community differently from previous outbreaks.

The 66 bus has 13 stops from RBWH Station ending at UQ Lakes Station and has been listed on the contract tracing list as the Brisbane lockdown is extended to 4pm Sunday, August 8.

Six of these stops, including two hospitals, are large educational settings. The education facilities at the Princess Alexandria Hospital and RBWH are also listed as exposure sites.

Dr Barnes says her perspective is a sociological one, and she is not an epidemiologist.

“As the Brisbane outbreak is focussed on educational institutions, the sociology of education can provide some insight into how the virus is moving through Brisbane,” Dr Barnes said.

“Many of the exposure sites are typical of school children travelling on public transport, being picked up by their families and attending both social and educational after school activities.”

Dr Barnes said previous outbreaks found school children had not been major factors in the spreading the disease.

“Children are more likely to move through multiple sites after school hours. An adult might go to the shops or pick up takeaway after work. And a child might accompany that adult after sport lessons.

“That child will come into contact with more people.”

The outbreak was detected last Thursday when a schoolgirl from Brisbane’s western suburbs was found to have the highly infectious Delta strain.

“Families, especially those with more than one child, have multiple after school activities in varied places, hugely multiplying possible exposure sites.”

Currently, there are six Brisbane schools at the centre of the spread of the Delta COVID-19 disease.

Dr Barnes research is focussed on how information moves through education networks in social settings.

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