Queensland’s top doctor has warned COVID-19 cases will “certainly” number in the hundreds of thousands, if not higher, across the Sunshine State as residents are reminded of strict testing requirements.
Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard has issued a dire warning about a massive surge in COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks as Queenslanders are reminded to only come forward for a PCR test if they fall under strict testing requirements.
The message comes as Queensland reports another spike in daily cases with 5,699 new infections detected, up from 4,249 cases on Monday, with one more person admitted to intensive care taking the total number of patients in ICU to 11.
Pathology Queensland is also reporting 23 per cent of tests processed in the past 24 hour reporting period are coming back positive.
“This suggests that there are more people in the community with COVID-19 yet to be picked up,” Dr Gerrard told a COVID-19 press conference update on Tuesday.
“Even though the proportion of patients requiring intensive care is substantially lower than what we have seen previously, the numbers of cases that we are expecting to see through January will be very high, certainly in the hundreds of thousands if not more in Queensland – very high.”
Queenslanders were also urged not to line up to receive a PCR test unless absolutely necessary due to long queues forming outside testing sites across the state.
“I do want to remind people there should only be three reasons you come forward and line up for a PCR test,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath told reporters.
“That is if you have COVID symptoms … Secondly that you have done a rapid antigen test and it’s come up positive, you should be coming forward to get a PCR test.
“And thirdly, you are a household close contact and it is day six and you haven’t been able to get a RAT (rapid antigen) test.”
Half a million RAT tests will begin to be distributed across the state from Wednesday, but people living in regional areas have been told to expect supplies to be bolstered in a couple of days.
Queensland has reported a steady jump in COVID cases this week, with 4,249 new cases recorded on Monday, 3,587 cases on Sunday and 2,266 cases on Saturday.
Across the state, 90.76 per cent of the eligible population has received their first dose of COVID vaccine and 86.62 per cent are fully vaccinated.
“We are creeping slowly towards that second 90 per cent double dose but we do need people coming out and getting their vaccination on time,” Ms D’Ath said.
She further reminded people to come forward for their booster dose as the timeframe for a third dose is shortened on Tuesday.
Under a major change to the vaccination rollout, Australians aged over 18 will be able to roll up their sleeve and get a booster shot just four months after receiving their second dose.
Tuesday’s daily COVID figures takes the state’s active caseload to 25,294 of which 170 are in hospital and 11 in intensive care with two on ventilators.
Dr Gerrard said the low ICU numbers were encouraging despite the highly infectious nature of the virus.
“This is a very contagious virus but the good news so far … is that of all those cases we still as of last night only had 11 patients in intensive care, of whom two were on ventilators.
“So this disease that we are seeing at the moment bears no resemblance to the disease that was being reported last year, both in Australia and overseas.
“Largely because of vaccination and also probably because of the Omicron strain.”