Qld has 15 COVID-19 deaths, 11,600 cases

Nick Gibbs |

Queensland has recorded another 15 COVID-19 related deaths and 11,600 new cases, with the peak of the Omicron wave in sight in the state’s southeast.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the latest deaths were people aged between their 60s and 90s, and she passed on condolences to their families. 

The latest cases come as hospital admissions for the virus decline to 829, down from 928 on Tuesday.

“Most of that fall has been on the Gold Coast … so the Gold Coast has very clearly peaked and is on its way down,” Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said on Thursday.

“We believe that the greater Brisbane area, the rest of southeast Queensland, is approaching its peak right now.”

The hospital numbers include 48 patients in intensive care, 15 of whom are on ventilators. 

Ms D’Ath said the latest hospital figures had her feeling optimistic. 

“I haven’t felt that way for a few weeks now, but looking at the numbers over the last 48 hours, seeing the drop in patient numbers, even our furloughed staff, we’re just seeing a bit of a trend,” she said.

Modelling had projected hospital admissions in the “multiples of thousands” at the peak of the wave, Dr Gerrard said. 

“The reason why we are doing so well is because so many of the Queensland population were vaccinated before the virus was introduced,” he said.

While it’s not clear if there will be another wave as Australia approaches winter, Dr Gerrard said passing the current peak in Queensland was an opportunity to rethink the pandemic strategy. 

“We’re still not totally clear how the tail of this pandemic will play out,” he said.

Hope of soon reaching peak virus caseload comes with fresh concerns about the vaccination rate among high school students, with face to face learning to return next month.

“It is still under 70 per cent double dose for our 12 to 15 year olds,” Ms D’Ath said.

“The numbers are still too low, these kids are going back to high school very soon.”

The state is yet to release its back-to-school plan after education minister Grace Grace contracted COVID-19 earlier this week.

“Before the kids go back the plan will be released so parents will be able to know how we’re going to manage any outbreaks within the schools,” Ms D’Ath said. 

Most students are due to return to the classroom on February 7.

Meanwhile, the state’s chamber of commerce wants to know what the approaching 90 per cent double dose vaccination rate means for businesses.

“We heard in November new vaccine-in-the-workplace rules for hospitality and entertainment businesses would be reviewed when the state hit 90 per cent double vaccinated,” CCIQ Policy and Advocacy General Manager Amanda Rohan said.

“We’re so close to reaching that milestone and so far we don’t know what impact the review will have on businesses.”

The state’s double dose vaccination rate currently sits at 89.3 per cent.