Qld reports 20,566 COVID cases, one death

Nick Gibbs and Marty Silk |

Queensland’s active COVID-19 cases have increased by 20,566, with the sharp jump in the number of infections partially due to previous delays at private labs. 

There has also been one additional COVID-19 death recorded, a man in his late 70s who had “very significant” underlying medical problems.

The new figures come as Chief Health Officer John Gerrard labelled people reportedly infecting themselves deliberately at “COVID-19 parties” as “utterly ridiculous”. 

“The best way to get immunity to this virus is through vaccination, not through COVID parties, they are ridiculous so please stop them,” he said. 

Tuesday’s case numbers are more than double Monday’s total, which was lower than expected because four private pathology labs were unable to report test results for Sunday.

The increase in case numbers is putting extra pressure on the state’s hospitals, with more than 500 patients being looked after in wards, and another 27 in intensive care.

Chief health officer John Gerrard said the number of ward patients was predicted to keep increasing until the second week of February.

“Those numbers will become quite significant in the coming weeks… and then hopefully, if the mathematical modelling is correct, it will start to decline after that,” Dr Gerrard said.

The expected rise in hospital admissions and “significantly more” ICU patients will be a tense time for healthcare workers, he said.

More than 2100 heath workers have tested positive to the virus, and another 2715 have been deemed close contacts. 

“There might be some close contacts who are being monitored and being swapped daily and working in the wards,” Dr Gerrard said.

Concern about the rate of infection on the Gold Coast remains as the holiday destination passes the 90 per cent single dose vaccination mark. 

“Disappointingly, what we’ve found on the Gold Coast is a lot of people not wearing masks,” Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Tuesday.

Police are running several operations in the region, including the Pacific Fair shopping centre, and say those flouting mask rules are “predominantly people visiting the state”. 

Meanwhile, all new jury trials in Queensland will be suspended for at least a month after the state’s outbreak grew to more than 100,000 cases.

Jury trials will not recommence before February 21, with the situation to be reviewed on February 11, Supreme Court Chief Justice Catherine Holmes and Chief District Court Judge Brian Devereaux said in a statement on Tuesday.

The start of the school year has also been postponed from January 24 until February 7 for most students, with Year 11 and 12 students to start online learning on January 31.

An extra week of school will be added in December to help make up for the delay. 

“I went to the vaccination centre yesterday speaking to parents… they’re extremely thankful that has been pushed back by two weeks,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.

Currently at least 87.85 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are fully vaccinated, and 91.16 per cent have had at least one dose.