Qld records 8580 cases, 13 deaths as back-to-school plans unveiled

Queensland has recorded a further 8580 new cases of COVID-19 along with 13 deaths.

All deaths reported on Sunday were aged over the age of 60 with one person over the age of 100.

Of the new cases, 750 were recorded on the Gold Coast.


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Hospital admissions continue to fall with 745 patients being treated across the state, down from 833, with 41 in ICU.

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard says the drop in hospitalisations is welcome.

“Of course, we shouldn’t be paying too much attention to a single day, but that is a very substantial decline. So it’s hard not to feel that that is a real phenomenon that we’re observing,” Dr Gerrard said.

Dr Gerrard has also confirmed the emergence of a new strain of the Omicron variant in Queensland but is playing down the threat.

“What we know about this strain of virus is it does appear to be a bit more contagious (but) it doesn’t seem to be any more harmful, it’s no more virulent than the standard Omicron strain

“As far as we know, and it appears that the vaccines are equally effective against this strain. So I’m not unduly concerned about it.”

It comes as the state government on Sunday provided more details of its back-to-school plan.

Students return to class on February 7 after the start of the school year was delayed for two weeks.

As revealed on Saturday, masks will be mandatory for teachers and high school students while primary school students in Years 3 and above will be ‘strongly encouraged’ to wear masks.

Students will be able to remove their masks while seated.

Unlike some other states, there will be no requirement for students to undergo rapid antigen tests.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says they’re not necessary.

“There is no health advice by the chief health officer or by AHPPC that staff or students need regular testing,” The Premier said.

“On top of that, many parents have raised with me concerns about how they would administer these tests to their children. So I think we have reached a good middle point.”

Rapid tests will be available at schools if a child develops symptoms.

Excursions, school camps, assemblies and large gatherings will be suspended for at least the first four weeks of the term.

Visitors to schools will be restricted however parents will still be allowed on school grounds.

Education Minister Grace Grace says any COVID outbreak in a school won’t necessarily lead to that school being closed.

“You can’t have a one size fits all in those situations. We will be working very closely with Health, with Dr Gerrard, we will be monitoring the situation, but obviously, we will be treating it like it is any other breakout at this point in time, but the closing of schools will become our last resort,” Ms Grace said.

More to come.