Qld records 10K COVID-19 cases, 12 deaths

Queensland has recorded another 10,391 cases of COVID-19 as much of the state edges closer to the peak of the Omicron wave.

Another 12 people have died in the last 24 hours after recently returning a positive COVID-19 result.

They include one person aged in their 60s, two in their 70s, six in their 80s and three in their 90s.

There are still 833 people being treated in public hospitals across Queensland, including 53 people in ICU.

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said the number of people being hospitalised had increased slightly in the last 24 hours.

“We know that the Gold Coast is a solid seven days ahead of the rest of Queensland in terms of its epidemic,” Dr Gerrard said.

“So we don’t really expect to see significant falls in the rest of southeast Queensland until sometime in the coming week.”

Dr Gerrard said it appeared the epidemic was occurring in two different ways.

“We’re seeing it occurring geographically,” he said.

“Clearly the epidemic started on the Gold Coast between Christmas and New Year and then spread very rapidly to the rest of Queensland.

“But also in terms of age groups.

“It started with young adults and then through the workforce of Queensland.

“What we’re seeing in hospitals reflects the next group which is the older age group in particular and those with co-morbidities.

“And that will be the last group we will see and, in many ways, clearly the most important because these are the ones that are sickest and the most likely to experience complications.”

Dr Gerrard said it was good to see the number of people getting infected in the workforce is decreasing right across the state.

“Already we’re seeing reductions right across Queensland in the numbers of people with COVID-19 in the workforce,” he said.

Mattie Ryan, Woolworths State Supply Chain Manager, said their workforce had grown significantly this week, with a number of people returning to work, allowing stock to return to shelves.

For much of this month, stores across the Gold Coast have been stripped bare because of the disruptions to supply chain cause by the Omicron outbreak.

A few weeks ago between 30-40 per cent of their workforce had either contracted the virus or was forced to isolate because they were a close contact.

This week that number has dropped to between 10-20 per cent.

“That’s put us in much better shape to deliver products for our stores,” Mr Ryan said.

“We’ve seen this week about a 15 per cent uplift in what we’ve been getting into our supermarkets

“We expect that trend to continue into next week and it should put us in much better shape.”

Mr Ryan admitted there was still a way to go before things would return to normal.

“We know everything isn’t perfect at the stores at the moment,” he said.

“Meat and toilet paper isn’t exactly where we would want it to be.

“But a number of our key categories are improving day by day and we should see that continue into next week.”

Today also marks two years since the state government declared a Public Health Emergency in relation to the COVID outbreak, allowing the Chief Health Officer to enact certain public health measures.

Queensland was the first jurisdiction in the state to made that declaration.

It came a day after the state saw its first case on COVID-19, in a traveller from Wuhan on the Gold Coast.

Calls grow for Qld govt corruption probe

Calls are growing for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to order a probe into integrity, with the Liberal National Party saying corruption “is running through the government”.

LNP leader David Crisafulli and the Katter’s Australian Party want a royal commission after the departure of three statutory officers, two of whom said the government had interfered in their roles.

Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov and Crime and Corruption chairperson Alan MacSporran both resigned this week, while former state archivist Mike Summerell revealed he was forced out by the government in March.

Mr Crisafulli says it’s the state’s biggest integrity crisis since the fall of the Bjelke-Petersen government 30 years ago.

The LNP leader has written to Ms Palaszczuk asking her to call for a royal commission.

“Anything short of a Royal Commission doesn’t cut it,” Mr Crisafulli told reporters on Friday.

“Only a royal commission will get to the bottom of the corruption that is running through the government.”

The call for a probe comes after former state achivist Mike Summerell revealed he was forced out after being “greatly hindered” by “potentially inappropriate interference”.

He unexpectedly left his role in March, hours after the LNP asked him to probe whether Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk used any of her private emails, which he was holding, for official government business.

Mr Summerell says his role became “compromised” by potential government interference, including a lack of support and legal advice.

“My time as State Archivist post 2017 was greatly hindered by what I considered potentially inappropriate interference in my statutory role,” he told News Corp on Friday.

At the time of his departure, Arts Minister Leanne Enoch said the archivist’s five-year contract had run out, and he had decided not to renew it and move to New Zealand.

However, Mr Summerell said that is not what happened.

“I did not actually resign, I was simply told my contract would not be extended,” he said.

“My own opinion is that my stance on matters of integrity and the independence of the office of the State Archivist were primary factors in that decision.”

Mr Summerell supports an inquiry into the government’s integrity, which is also backed by the LNP, crossbenchers, the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties, and the outgoing Integrity Commissioner.

Earlier this week, Dr Stepanov said the Public Service Commission defunded her office and reduced its staff.

The commissioner also alleged that last year the PSC seized a laptop from her office and wiped its contents without her “knowledge or consent”.

QCCL president Terry O’Gorman said the CCC was not in a position to investigate the “extraordinary allegation” about the laptop when it was effectively leaderless following Mr MacSporran’s resignation.

He said the watchdog would take too long, and the public had lost confidence in it following a spate of botched probes last year.

Premier Palaszczuk has downplayed the Integrity Commissioner’s resignation, saying that “people change jobs all the time”.

© AAP 2022

Qld records 9K COVID-19 cases, 18 deaths

Queensland has recorded the highest daily number of COVID-19 related deaths with 18 people passing away in the last 24 hours, including an unvaccinated person aged in their 30s.

Four others were aged in the 60s, four were in their 70s, seven were in their 80s and two were in their 90s. 12 of those deaths occurred in aged care.

“This is not an easy task, having to report these deaths ,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“Today is two years since our first case here in Queensland.

“It has been going on for two years and does not make it any easier, every day coming here to report these tragedies.”

There were another 9,974 cases reported across the state including 3,960 from rapid antigen tests.

Hospitalisations have continued to drop with 818 people currently receiving treatment in state facilities. 54 of those are in intensive care.

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said that fall was mostly due to the ongoing drop on the Gold Coast.

“It’s Gold Coast predominantly,” he said.

“We haven’t yet begun to see a clear fall in other parts of Queensland.

“The situation in most of Queensland, outside the Gold Coast, is very stable and we are expecting to see falls sometime in the next seven days.”

The Premier also released ‘worst case scenario’ modelling from just 18 days ago that authorities had been using for planning.

It expected that up to 5000 hospital beds would be needed at the height of the peak – much higher than the less than 1000 that eventuated.

The worst case modelling also predicted up to 500 patients in ICU.

“When you actually think about this you can understand why we have had so many sleepless nights,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We were planning for the worst case scenario and it was quite frightening at the time.

“I am relieved.

“We’re not out of it yet .. but it is absolutely heartening, at this stage, that the modelling today is below even the lowest scenario.”

The Chief Health Officer also warned the crisis wasn’t over just yet and people shouldn’t rush to change their behaviours just yet.

“This is not over,” he said.

“The news is good so far but don’t go out and celebrate just yet.”

NSW, Vic record 74 deaths, 26,000 new COVID cases

New South Wales has recorded a further 35 COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours.

It takes the state’s toll for the pandemic to 1231.

Case numbers have fallen with 13,333 recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, down from more than 17,000 on Thursday.

More than 7000 of those are positive rapid tests from the previous seven days.

But hospital admissions have increased with 2737 patients currently being treated.

There are 189 people in ICU, up from 181 yesterday.

Meantime, case numbers in Victoria have also fallen with 12,755 reported on Friday.

But the state recorded another 39 deaths.

Hospital admissions have dropped from 1057 to 988.

There are 114 people in ICU, a slight drop from Thursday’s figures with 40 patients being ventilated.

Teen booster approved amid slow jab uptake

More people will soon be able to get a COVID-19 booster shot after the medical regulator granted provisional approval for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for 16 and 17-year-olds.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to get the COVID-19 booster in the same dosage as adults.

A final green light is still needed from Australia’s leading vaccine advisory group ATAGI before the boosters are rolled out further.

Currently, only those 18 and older have been able to get the booster.

The medical regulator is still monitoring trials of vaccine boosters for younger children.

The booster decision comes as federal, state and territory leaders debate whether to change the definition of fully vaccinated to require a third dose.

No decision was made on the issue at Thursday’s national cabinet meeting, with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation continuing to consider the issue.

However, it would be up to individual jurisdictions to update their respective public health orders, should the definition change.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said such a decision to change the definition of fully vaccinated was for medical experts to decide.

“The main message is just to encourage people to get their booster shot,” Mr Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday.

“We want to make sure we have sufficient protection, and it is obvious you need the booster and out of all the data available, people that have the booster shot are less likely to have a more severe case of Omicron.”

Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said booster rates remained low across the country.

“Where we stand relative to the rest of the world, we have had a slow rollout of the booster and that comes on the back of a very slow rollout of the vaccine proper last year,” he said.

“Other parts of the world are going in that direction (to make three vaccine doses be defined as fully vaccinated) but that is a matter to be listening to the medical advisers.”

Infectious diseases expert Professor Sanjaya Senanayake said the decision by the TGA to approve boosters for teenagers was a significant step forward.

“We know in terms of Omicron in terms of getting disease and protection from hospitalisation, a booster dose does make a difference,” he told the Nine Network.

“In other parts of the world like the US, we are seeing younger people get a booster dose, in fact they have approved a booster dose for 12 to 15-year-olds.”

NSW on Thursday reported 29 deaths and 117,316 cases, while Victoria recorded 13,755 new cases and 15 deaths.

There were another 15 deaths and 11,600 cases in Queensland, while South Australia recorded 13 deaths and 1953 cases.

The ACT racked up 884 new infections, Tasmania 726 and the Northern Territory 626.

© AAP 2022