National News

Virus hits Queensland's rail, bus network

Chinas coronavirus death toll up to 563

Long-haul train and bus services will be cut or cancelled entirely as Queensland fights to slow the spread of coronavirus.

From Monday, there will be far fewer trains and coaches crisscrossing the state, but rural and regional centres have been told they will still have access for essential travel on key corridors.

"Right now, people should not be travelling on coaches or trains across Queensland unless they have an essential reason to," Transport Minister Mark Bailey said on Friday.

Anyone who does board a train or a coach for work or medical travel will be carefully managed to make sure they don't sit too close to others.

Passenger services on the North Coast rail line between Brisbane and Cairns will be halved.

Services that will be suspended entirely include the Spirit of the Outback from Brisbane to Longreach, the Westlander from Brisbane to Charleville, and the Inlander from Townsville to Mount Isa.

The Savannahlander, Gulflander and Kuranda Scenic Railway services will also cease operation.

Long-distance buses will also be reduced. And buses will be used to service communities that will lose their rail services.

"These are temporary measures, but they are critical to curbing the spread of COVID-19 into our rural and regional communities," Mr Bailey said.

The state's coronavirus tally stands at 493, and the border with NSW is closed to non-essential travel. NSW trains are also being stopped at the border.

Health authorities are desperately trying to trace people who came into contact with a man who visited three different venues on the Sunshine Coast before testing positive for the virus.

Dozens could be at risk if they encountered the man at the Land & Sea Brewery, Sum Yung Guys restaurant and the Sunshine Beach Surf Life Saving Club between March 13 and 15.

Meanwhile, the lockdown of Brisbane's Wolston correctional centre has been linked to a passenger who came off the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney.

Sources told The Courier-Mail that a prison officer became infected after going borrow a trailer from a colleague who got off the ship in Sydney and who was self-isolating at home.

At that stage the returned traveller had not tested positive. He later did, as did his work mate.

But by then, the prison officer had worked three 12-hours shifts at the Wolston centre. The jail was forced into lockdown as a result, to allow for a forensic clean.

Queenslanders have been warned they could face tighter lockdowns if people continue to flout social distancing rules

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has pleaded for Queenslanders to stay home, but says it's entirely safe for people to head out to vote in local government elections on Saturday.

She says there's no risk if people practice social distancing and good personal hygiene, but doctors have expressed serious concerns.

The Australian Medical Association of Queensland says people should wear masks to polling booths if they have them.

It also wants express voting channels for older people to limit their chance of becoming infected as they vote.

© AAP 2020