More mandates are not being considered in Queensland despite the new Omicron sub-variant causing a spike in COVID-19 cases, the state’s chief health officer says.
John Gerrard said state infections jumped by 15 per cent in the past week, with more than half the cases in the past fortnight identified as sub-variant BA.2.
Queensland has recorded nine more deaths and 8881 new cases on Tuesday – the most infections in almost two months – with fully jabbed Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe becoming the latest state government minister to test positive.
Dr Gerrard said since BA.2 was first discovered by Queensland Health in December it has spread to more than 90 countries.
“In the last two weeks we have seen 58 per cent of the virus sequenced in Queensland identified as BA.2,” he said.
“It will be by far and away the dominant strain virus in Australia within weeks.”
However Dr Gerrard is not considering reintroducing any mandates, at least not yet.
“A legal restriction from the chief health officer is a very serious thing to undertake,” he said.
“I will only undertake that if it is clear there is an immediate threat to the safety of Queenslanders. But we do not plan to introduce any new public health measures to deal with this current BA.2 wave until we get a better sense of what it is like.”
Dr Gerrard said the spike had not been reflected in hospital wards and was not as bad as January’s Omicron wave when infections doubled every two to three days.
There are 252 patients — including 19 school-aged children — in hospital and another nine people in intensive care.
The CHO said the BA.2 variant was “dominant” in age groups from pre-school to 30s in Queensland.
“For most cases we all know it is a mild disease …(but) we can see serious complications with COVID in children — it is not a myth — including some who have gone to ICU,” Dr Gerrard said.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath, who is back to work after recovering from COVID-19, said the latest case numbers were a timely reminder for people to get vaccinated.
The latest figures show 93.28 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one dose, while 91.49 per cent have had two.
But almost 40 per cent of Queenslanders due for boosters have not received them.
Another concern was the 5-11 age group’s 43.15 per cent vaccination rate.
“I know we have been dealing with so many things in our community in recent times including the floods but please remember the virus is … as dangerous as it has always been,” Ms D’Ath said.
Meanwhile, Mr Hinchliffe on Tuesday revealed he was the third state minister to contract the virus but only had mild symptoms.
“I am following the isolation rules, will be recovering and working from home,” he tweeted.
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