Qld records 6781 cases, test demand surges

Marty Silk |

Queensland has recorded almost 6900 new COVID-19 cases as the state government ramps up testing and calls for rapid antigen tests to be free for pensioners and other welfare recipients.

The 6871 new cases emerged after 29,418 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Wednesday taking the number of active cases to 32,312.

As cases continue to blow out, thousands of people are lining up for PCR tests and the cost of rapid antigen tests (RATs) is rising.

A number of private testing clinics have been unexpectedly closed in the past two days, putting further pressure on testing capacity in Queensland.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says another six private testing clinics will be opened in Ashgrove, Boondall, Edens Landing, Cleveland, Indooroopilly, Wilston and Bundall this week due to surging demand.

She will also ask national cabinet to make RATs free for pensions and other welfare recipients.

“We just need to make it very, very simple and easy, especially to our most vulnerable people at this particular point in time,” the premier told reporters on Wednesday.

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said 10 people were in intensive care with two on ventilators, while another 265 people are in hospital.

He urged people with mild symptoms not to panic, but stay home and monitor their symptoms. 

Only people experiencing breathlessness or faintness should call triple zero or go to hospitals, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of reports of people dialling triple zero the moment they get a diagnosis at COVID-19, even with very mild symptoms, and that’s really is causing a problem in many of our emergency departments, and it’s not necessary,” Dr Gerrard told reporters.