Qld mulls over suspending elective surgery

Laine Clark |

As COVID-19 cases escalate, Queensland is poised to make a call on whether it will suspend all elective surgery.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged Queenslanders to work at home and avoid socialising in coming weeks after another 10,953 new cases were recorded on Friday.

While Queensland already has more than 50,000 active infections, the state’s outbreak is still expected to peak over the next six weeks.

Hospitals are facing staff shortages already with 1156 health workers infected and 1835 in quarantine.

In a bid to alleviate pressure, the Queensland government is set to make a call as early as Saturday on whether to suspend all elective surgery during the peak.

There are also contingency plans to allow infected health workers who are asymptomatic to work in COVID-19 wards.

There were 327 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 14 in intensive care, including three on ventilation in Queensland on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Queensland government’s decision to delay primary school students’ return if the outbreak is still peaking has been applauded by a teachers’ union.

Primary school children – many of whom won’t have had enough time to be fully vaccinated – are due to return to class on January 24.

But Ms Palaszczuk says that will be postponed by two to three weeks if infections are still escalating.

“The Queensland premier’s statements … on the possible delay of primary schools returning is most welcome at this uncertain time and we look forward to the full details of the plan being provided in the coming days,” said Terry Burke of Independent Education Union Queensland and Northern Territory.

“IEU-QNT members also await the full details of the national plan for the return of schools as announced by the Prime Minister earlier in the week.

“This plan needs to deal with how schools will manage staff and student exposures and return to school policies, enhanced pandemic leave arrangements as well as air quality and ventilation to name just a few major concerns our members have right now.”