Stay home if mild virus symptoms, Qld told

Marty Silk |

Queenslanders with mild COVID-19 symptoms are being urged to stay at home as hospitals and testing centres are overrun with more than 32,312 cases in the state.

Another 6781 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.

There are 10 people in intensive care including two on ventilators, while 265 patients are in hospital.

With surging demand for tests and concern about pressure on the hospital system, Chief Health Officer John Gerrard is urging people with mild symptoms to just stay home.

“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,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Only people suffering breathlessness, chest pain, fainting or significant dizziness, Dr Gerrard said, should consider calling emergency services or going to hospital.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said households should prepare in case someone gets COVID-19 in their home.

“Go get yourself a thermometer, make sure you’ve got some Nurofen or Panadol, those sorts of things, at home,” she said.

“Just make sure you’ve got sufficient food if you need to quarantine for seven days, so there’s things you can be doing to prepare.”

The chief health officer also said only people who have symptoms, a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) result or are close household contacts should be lining up for PCR tests.

Testing centres are being overrun as thousands of people line up or queue in traffic, with a number of private clinics unexpectedly closed due to staffing shortages.

Ms D’Ath said batch analysis is also no longer feasible in Queensland to due to the masses of positive results, which are causing further delays.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says new private testing clinics will be opened in Ashgrove, Boondall, Edens Landing, Cleveland, Indooroopilly, Wilston and Bundall on Thursday and Friday mornings.

She will also ask national cabinet on Wednesday 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.

Amid the confusion, Ms Palaszczuk said she didn’t regret opening the domestic borders ahead of the Christmas break.

“We had a national plan and the national plan was to reunite families,” she said. 

“That was the national plan that every other state and territory – Western Australia’s a bit different – followed.”

Dr Gerrard said while the decision was made before he started in his role as CHO, opening the border in summer when most people were at home and schools were on holidays was the right choice.

He believes the current Omicron wave in Queensland will probably peak in a few more weeks.

“We know we have to have this wave and we know it will generate immunity in the community,” Dr Gerrard said.