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Queensland has six virus deaths, to open borders

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Six people have died from COVID-19 in Queensland as the state reports another 14,914 virus cases and prepares to dump all domestic border controls.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was the state’s highest virus single-day virus toll since the pandemic began in 2020.

The dead were all aged between their 70s, 80s and 90s and had significant underlying health conditions.

“During the whole two years of the pandemic, we’ve lost seven people. To lose six in one day is a big shock, and our thoughts are with the people at the moment,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Thursday.

“It’s quite upsetting.”

She also announced the state would drop all domestic border controls, with the Omicron variant already widespread in the community and 90 per cent of eligible Queenslanders to be fully vaccinated at some point next week.

“At the moment, the need is for our domestic borders to be open so our police can return to the frontline,” she said.

At least 88.18 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had two vaccination doses.

Ms Palaszczuk said road border checkpoints would be removed and travellers would no longer have to show proof of negative COVID tests from 1am on Saturday (local time).

“They do not have to show that they’ve had the border pass, they don’t have to state that they’ve had a RAT test, rapid antigen test,” she said.

“This is the time, and the time is now right as we head towards hitting that 90 per cent.”

Chief health officer John Gerrard said the border restrictions had “done their job” by giving Queenslanders an opportunity to get vaccinated before widespread community transmission.

“Now the virus … as expected is spreading through Queensland, but with a vaccinated population, so the job has been done and these borders are no longer required,” he said.

The operation has required significant police resources since the first border checkpoint was established in March 2020, and the change would enable the force to “get back to business”, Commissioner Katarina Carroll said.

She said police had issued 3.3 million online border pass declarations since the pandemic began and met 29,336 flights at the state’s airports. They had also issued 4244 infringement notices – and at least 15,000 masks.

“I can’t take the smile off my face,” she said.

“A sincere thank you to all of those officers out there, what a tremendous response.”

Ms Palaszczuk said international restrictions would remain until Queensland hit the vaccination target.

– with AAP

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