Qld posts 9581 cases, surge on Gold Coast

Marty Silk |

More than half the COVID-19 patients in intensive care in Queensland are in Gold Coast hospitals, where authorities believe the state’s outbreak is surging.

Queensland recorded another 9581 cases on Monday after more than 21,000 tests, taking the total number of active cases to at least 90,000.

Case numbers are lower than expected because four private pathology labs have been unable to report test results for Sunday, possibly due to a software update glitch.

There are 21 patients in ICU, including seven on ventilation, while 419 people are being treated for COVID-19 in hospital.

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard says more than half of the ICU cases and a quarter of all hospital admissions are on the Gold Coast.

“It looks like at the moment the surge is probably occurring on the Gold Coast,” he told reporters on Monday.

“It’s not surprising, given the sheer number of interstate visitors which would cause seeding events to occur.”

Dr Gerrard also noted that the Gold Coast’s vaccination coverage was below the state average and among the lowest in southeast Queensland.

Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Gollschewski said there was low compliance with the face mask mandate on the Gold Coast as well.

Of the 189 face masks handed out by Queensland police on Sunday, 168 were on the Gold Coast.

Dr Gerrard says due to the high vaccination rate, Omicron was starting to become the dominant variant in the state.

He said 90 per cent of all cases in Queensland were that variant with the state experiencing an “Omicron pandemic”.

Meanwhile, the government will postpone the start of the school year from January 24 until February 7 for most students, with Year 11 and 12 students to start online learning on January 31.

The delay will allow most children to get vaccinated before school returns, Dr Gerrard said, but there will still be a surge when classes go back.

He said parents shouldn’t be overly anxious about their children catching the virus, which would not be severe for most of them.

“I worry that we are making parents very anxious that it’s going to make their children terribly ill,” he said. 

“So for the most part, the children will have only a mild illness, very similar to any of the respiratory infections they’ve had in the past.”

He said a major reason for delaying the school year was also to protect adults during the peak of the current outbreak.

“In reality, the biggest risk is not to the children themselves, it’s to the people around them, to their parents and their grandparents,” the CHO said. 

“So as much as anything else, this two extra weeks gives an opportunity to others who might be at risk to get that third dose.”

Education Minister Grace Grace said the delay would also help ensure there’s enough staff available when schools return.

However, she has warned that the return could be impacted by tight vaccine supplies or high cases among school staff.

“Look, I don’t know exactly what’s going to come into the future,” Ms Grace told ABC Radio on Monday.

“But at this stage, we’re hoping that we’ll get over the peak of Queensland, that the two weeks will be sufficient and we’ll have face to face (learning) as soon as possible.”