The head of infectious diseases at the Gold Coast University Hospital has been appointed as Queensland’s next Chief Health Officer.
Dr John Gerrard will take on the role from mid-December.
He replaces Dr Jeanette Young who was appointed Queensland’s Governor earlier this month.
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Her initial successor, Dr Krispin Hajkowicz quit the role just days before he was due to begin.
Dr Gerrard says it’s a profound honour to take on the role
“It is also a deep and concerning responsibility to take on this role at this time but I am heartened, and the responsibility is made lighter because of the actions of Queenslanders over the last 24 months,” Dr Gerrard said.
“What we have seen in Queensland has been quite extraordinary. We have been able to eliminate, to keep the virus out of Queensland for the last two years and to allow Queenslanders to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“This is something that has not been achieved anywhere else in the world that I can think of.”
Dr Gerrard praised his predecessor Jeanette Young for guiding the state through the pandemic.
“Now as we move forward things will change and during the course of the next 12 months, it is likely the virus will be introduced into Queensland but this needs to be done in a controlled and systematic way.
“So the main thing as we move forward is to ensure all Queenslanders are vaccinated against COVID-19 as the virus is introduced.”
Dr Gerrard has been the Director of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Gold Coast University Hospital since 1994.
He was the first doctor in Queensland to treat a COVID patient last year and led the COVID response on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and another incident in the Dutch Antilles.
He was also instrumental in designing the Gold Coast University Hospital to manage patients with highly infectious viruses like COVID.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed Dr Gerrard’s appointment, saying he has already played a crucial role during the pandemic.
“I think the Gold Coast should be very very proud that Dr Gerrard has stepped up to take on this very important role,” The Premier said.
“I am absolutely delighted and I think Queenslander should be absolutely delighted.”