Qld records another local case of COVID-19

Queensland Health has confirmed a new local case of COVID-19 in Brisbane’s bayside, the second community case in Queensland this week.

A number of exposure sites linked to the new infection have been identified in Capalaba from Monday and Tuesday.

Urgent contact tracing is underway with officials to reveal more details on Saturday.

“This is a timely reminder for all Queenslanders to regularly monitor the list of exposure venues on the Queensland Health website and follow the public health advice, as there may be more locations,” Queensland Health said in a statement.

No further exposure sites have been identified on the Gold Coast since confirmation of a community case on Wednesday.

The man had been infectious in the community for three days and had visited Robina Town Centre last Friday.

Genomic sequencing has now linked the case back to New South Wales, but exactly how it got into the Gold Coast remains unclear.

Officials say the man had not been interstate, sparking fears there are undetected cases lurking in the city.

“Now that we’re aware that this Gold Coast case isn’t linked to the most recent cases on the Gold Coast, that means someone has been on the Gold Coast, and may still be on the Gold Coast, or elsewhere in Queensland who is positive and hasn’t been identified,” Ms D’Ath said.

“This reinforces the importance of everyone coming forward if they’ve got any symptoms, no matter how mild, and get tested”.

Jail

Man jailed, seven children rescued from child abuse ring

Seven children have been rescued and a Queensland man jailed following a major investigation into an international child abuse ring.

The 68-year-old appeared in Brisbane’s District Court on Thursday, where he was sentenced to five years behind bars after being found guilty of a range of child abuse offences.

The man was arrested in February last year after ABF officers at Brisbane International Airport found child abuse images on his laptop, smart phone, and a USB drive.

Investigations revealed the man had sent money to people based in Thailand and the Philippines to facilitate the sexual abuse of children.

As a result, authorities in the Philippines executed a search warrant at Labason, Zamboanga del Norte, on the island of Mindanao in February this year.

Seven children, aged between 3 and 14, were rescued, and a woman, who remains before the courts, was arrested.

Intelligence from the arrest of the woman in the Philippines led authorities in the United Kingdom to investigate a UK national identified as allegedly also making payments to the same woman.

A search warrant was executed at Bracknell in the UK in September, where a number of devices were seized and a 51-year-old man arrested.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the operation invovled officers from Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom and Philippines National Police .

“The AFP is working around-the-clock with our international and domestic law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who seek to do harm to children,” she said.

“Advances in technology now mean it takes multiple law enforcement agencies working together to break networks that share this material and keep children safe.”

“Only the start” Another weather system to hit saturated SE Qld

Heavy rainfall may be starting to ease across the South East, but we are being warned the threat of wet weather is far from over.

The Gold Coast has copped a drenching over the past few days, with the hinterland appearing to have taken in the most amount of rain.

Around 125 millimetres has fallen at Upper Springbrook since 9am yesterday, while Currumbin Creek recorded 105mm and Burleigh Waters on the southern Gold Coast had 100mm.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service Commissioner Greg Leach said while the heavy rain has subsided, another weather system is forecast to hit next week.

“We’re seeing an easing of rainfall conditions at the moment and hopefully we will get a reprieve over the next couple of days,” Mr Leach said.

“But there is another weather system that comes through next week and now that our catchments are already saturated, whatever rain we get from here on, those river levels are going to rise again very quickly.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr Leach warned “this is only the start of our severe weather system”.

“We have got a long way to go yet, we’ve got saturated catchments, so we’re probably going to face this situation for the next few months potentially,” he said.

An emergency alert remains in place for Inglewood in the Goondiwindi region, with around 1000 residents evacuated from floodwaters overnight.

“Major flood levels are expected for the MacIntyre Brook catchment in the next four hours,” QFES said in its latest update around midday on Wednesday.

“Properties in the area are likely to experience internal and external flooding.

“Council advises residents to warn neighbours, secure belongings and evacuate to the assembly point at the Inglewood Cemetery immediately.”

Over the past 24 hours, State Emergency Services responded to over 320 requests for assistance, with QFES crews also tasked to a number of swift water rescues.

Sadly, floodwaters have claimed the life of a man near Oakey on Wednesday afternoon, after his vehicle was washed off the road at Yalangur.

It’s prompted officials to issue a desperate plea for motorists to avoid driving through flooded roads.

On the Gold Coast, a number of roads remain under water including Tallebudgera Creek Rd at Tallebudgera Valley, Ruffles Rd at Willow Vale, Birds Rd at Guanaba, Clagiraba Rd at Clagiraba and Hardys Rd at Bonogin.

Qld could hit 80 per cent vaccine milestone by next week

There’s hope Queensland could hit the much-anticipated 80 per cent double dose target by the end of next week, potentially triggering an early reopening of the border.

The Sunshine State is scheduled to swing open its borders on December 17, however, the Premier has previously indicated the reopening could come sooner if the vaccine target is reached earlier.

According to Queensland’s latest vaccination figures, 86.65 per cent of eligible residents aged over 16 have had at least one dose, while 76.80 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Judging by the numbers, there are now around 131,000 second doses to go before we hit the magical 80 per cent mark.

Currently, there’s around 13,470 second doses being administered on average a day, meaning Queensland is on track to hit the milestone by the end of next week.

There were fears the emergence of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant would derail Queensland’s reopening plans, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today reaffirmed her commitment to reopening by December 17 at the latest.

It comes after leaders were briefed by health officials at National Cabinet overnight, with states and territories agreeing to not make any changes while more information is gathered on the new variant.

“I’m happy to take the advice of Professor Paul Kelly that more work will be conducted over the next 14 days,” Ms Palaszczuk told State Parliament.

“Queensland’s cautious approach is the right approach… Our cautious border settings have already put us in a good position.

“No changes have been made to our roadmap… Queensland will continue to monitor developments and listen to the expert advice.”

Queensland recorded two new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, but authorities are not concerned.

One was acquired overseas, while the other was acquired interstate.

Both cases are in hotel quarantine so do not pose a risk to the community.

National Cabinet to stay on track with reopening plans

Queensland’s border reopening will still be going ahead at this stage after an emergency National Cabinet meeting last night.

State and territory leaders met to discuss a response to the emerging variant Omicron, which is now in Australia.

There are six confirmed cases of the variant in the country, including one who’s been out and about in the New South Wales community.

However, authorities still have reason to believe that the variant may be milder in terms of symptoms when compared to the Delta strain, even if it does prove more transmissible.

National Cabinet last night committed to staying on track with the national plan of opening up.

That means Queensland’s plan to reopen the borders at 80 per cent double vaccination will still go ahead in time for Christmas.

Authorities continue to monitor the situation and will not rule out further action if necessary.

“National Cabinet agreed that the Commonwealth and state and territory governments will continue to pursue a suppression strategy, noting the objective is to limit the rate of Omicron incursions into Australia, rather than eliminate it at the border,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office reads.