Surgery suspension possible as new COVID-19 wave impacts Qld health system

The Queensland Health Minister has warned some elective surgeries may have to be cancelled as the latest COVID-19 wave places a major strain on the health system.

Yvette D’Ath said the number of health workers impacted by COVID has more than doubled in the last week and a half.

“As of yesterday, we now have 3,305 health workers and Queensland Ambulance Service workers who are isolating and quarantining,” the Minister said.


ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT


“It is putting pressure on our health system.”

Ms D’Ath said the lack of health staff meant that some hospitals may be forced to suspend elective surgeries across the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and Darling Downs. However, a state-wide pause was not being planned.

In the last 24 hours there have been 10,722 new cases.

There are 376 people with COVID-19 in public hospital and 13 in intensive care.

Chief Health Officer, Dr John Gerrard, said this second wave was being driven by the BA2 sub-variant, which is “particularly affecting children”.

“That’s probably because of the low vaccination rates in children and the relative lack of exposure that children had during that first Omicron wave,” he said.

“On a more positive note, our data is suggesting we are approaching the peak of transmission of this current wave,” he said.

However, he said hospitalisations and the impact on workers would continue to increase for the next week or two before subsiding.

“The peak, as we’ve said many times, is not the end,” he added.

Dr Gerrard also confirmed the rules had now relaxed for people who’ve contracted the virus.

Those who’ve recovered won’t need to tested for 12 weeks and they will not be considered a close contact during that time.

“We’ll be actively reviewing the few public health measures that remain in place, as our hospitalisations are expected to fall in the coming weeks,” he said.

“At this stage we still don’t know what will happen, we don’t know if we’ll have further waves.”

Dr Gerrard said he wanted to see the number of hospitalisations fall before any of the left over measures were reviewed.

However, the future of vaccination mandates that keep unvaccinated patrons our of hospitality venues and other facilities, is still being reviewed.

“We decided that, given that we have had a second wave, we would just put on hold all the measures until it was clear that this second wave was receding,” he said.

“We want to see the number of hospitalisations fall before we look at any of these measures.

“Hopefully we’ll start see those fall in the next couple of weeks.

“What exactly we do and what we change then, we’ll determine then.”

He said it was best to take a cautious approach to changing restrictions.

“Taking away restrictions and putting them back would be very difficult,” he said.

“So that’s why if we take them away we need to be sure that’s what we want to do.”