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Queensland has 11 virus deaths, cruises to return

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Another 11 people have died with COVID-19 in Queensland, with the state also recording 6103 new infections amid plans for cruise ships to return.

The latest numbers bring total active cases to slightly more than 34,000, including 245 people in hospital and 20 in ICU.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is confident the pandemic has not put people off cruise holidays as the state prepares to welcome its first ship for 15 months in June.

The announcement follows the federal government’s move not to renew a ban in place since March 2020, allowing cruise ships to return to Australian shores from April 17.

“Today we are going into the new normal and people want to resume activities as part of … living with COVID, so to speak,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Friday.

“This is something that I know many, many Queenslanders have been looking forward to.”

Additional safety measures are being put in place to mitigate the risks, including a double vaccination requirement, increased testing measures and mask rules while embarking, Ms Palaszczuk said.

As the state moves towards a strategy of living with COVID, Liberal National Opposition Leader David Crisafulli says the government should be more up front with the health advice governing restrictions.

“We’ve consistently said that we will look at good health advice and that’s fair and reasonable,” he said on Friday.

“It’s two years since the pandemic started, and we are in a different place than what we were.

“Don’t treat Queenslanders as mushrooms, take them on the journey.”

The call comes as members of parliament prepare to debate legislation that would extend the Chief Health Officer’s emergency powers from the current April 30 cut off to October 31.

The state’s Human Rights Commission does not support the extension, telling a parliamentary committee the laws “must be replaced with more transparent, accountable and human rights compatible legislation”.

Much of Queensland’s success in handling the pandemic has relied on the public’s trust in decision making, Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall told a hearing on Monday.

“They’ve accepted extraordinary restrictions on their human rights,” he said.

Decisions made to address the next COVID-19 waves will be tough, and the public’s appetite to forgo their rights will be tested, Mr McDougall said.

“It’s really important that there is an effective transparent model in place that maintains public confidence in public health decision making.”

– AAP

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