By Angela Norval
The reality of Covid-19 became even more significant for Bundaberg residents on Tuesday 27 October, with Fresh Fields Foodworks in Thabeban named a low-risk exposure site.
Anybody who visited the store between 4pm and 4.45pm on 23 October should get tested for Covid-19.
As the news filtered through social media, the question was what it meant for Fresh Fields Foodworks staff and customers moving forward.
While the news was troubling for owner of 16 years Margaret Houweling and her staff, they appreciated that knowledge was important in this case and immediately called the Queensland Health Covid-19 hotline.
Fresh Field Foodworks’ Andrew Barry said the information provided to them was clear: as a low-risk exposure site they were safe to be open and operating, but all who were on shift that afternoon needed to be tested as a precaution.
“While Bundaberg has been lucky throughout the two years the pandemic has been in Australia, we have always remained very diligent because we have 50 staff across our two locations that we need to be considering as well as our customers,” he said.
“We were pleased to have two Wide Bay Health officers visit the store following the news to look over security footage and also look over the safety protocols we have in place, including sanitisers and check-in Queensland.
“We were considered a low-risk exposure as the truck driver was not delivering anything to our store. It was a brief encounter where he came to purchase a drink and a bite to eat on his travels through Queensland.”
Having received the highest food safety rating from Bundaberg Regional Council, and always working to maintain the highest standards in store, Fresh Fields Foodworks continues to take Covid-19 very seriously.
“We are doing everything we can in regards to keeping everything that people touch sanitised as we realise that this could happen to anyone and we need to always be aware.
“Thankfully all staff on that afternoon have since tested negative for Covid-19 as per health regulations.
“Given that many of our staff are double vaccinated or have had at least one dose, this is something that we encourage in the whole community to help combat this pandemic.”
A Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service spokesperson said its public health unit was working with the Fresh Field Foodworks to identify people who might have been in direct contact with the Covid-19 case.
“If you were in this venue, but have not been contacted, then please call the public health unit on 4184 1800,” they said.
Anyone who was in this venue during the identified time should get tested, but does not need to isolate unless they have symptoms.
If experiencing symptoms, they should isolate at home until they receive a negative result.
If they are no longer in Queensland they should check with the relevant state health department for health advice and requirements.
There are no other exposure sites listed in Bundaberg, but people are encouraged to regularly check www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/current-status/contact-tracing.