Qld suffers deadliest day of pandemic

Marty Silk and Robyn Wuth |

Queensland has suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic as the state prepares to scrap all domestic border controls.

Six people died from COVID-19 and 14,914 new virus cases were recorded after 33,849 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Thursday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described the rise in the number of deaths from the pandemic to 17 as “quite upsetting”.

“Can I please express my deepest sympathies to the families of the loved ones that have passed away,” she said.

“These are people’s grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, and this will be a very difficult time for families at the moment.”

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said the dead were in their 70s, 80s and 90s and five were double-vaccinated, but all six had “significant underlying medical conditions”.

There were 556 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital on Thursday with 26 in intensive care and 10 on ventilation.

Dr Gerrard said those numbers were “stable” and there was evidence that booster vaccines were “critical” in preventing hospitalisation.

“Two doses do reduce the incidence of severe disease, but the booster significantly reduces your chance of being hospitalised over and above the two doses,” he said.

As the state’s outbreak surges to 145,294 active cases, the government has decided to drop all domestic border controls from 1am on Saturday.

Police road border checkpoints will be dismantled and travellers will no longer have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The government initially planned to ease those restrictions when 90 per cent of eligible Queenslanders had received two vaccine doses.

The latest figures show 91.41 per cent of those eligible have had one jab and 88.18 per cent have received two.

But Dr Gerrard advised the government to make the move earlier because everyone eligible has now had enough time to get the jab.

“Now the virus … as expected is spreading through Queensland, but with a vaccinated population,” he said.

“So the job has been done and these borders are no longer required.”

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said border police could be redirected to compliance operations, particularly to enforcing the vaccine mandate in venues and events.

“We are still wanting to make sure that only fully vaccinated people are entering those venues and those events that are more likely to see fast transmission happening,” she said.

International travel restrictions will remain in place until the state hits its 90 per cent vaccination target.

Ms D’Ath said more time was needed to work out how to deal with unvaccinated international travellers, along with air and ship crews.

Meanwhile, supermarkets are still struggling to restock with thousands of workers isolating with COVID-19 and even more quarantining as close contacts.

The health minister said she expected stores and pharmacies would control sales of items such as paracetamol, which are in high demand.

“Now because of that I just tell some people to be sensible,” Ms D’Ath said.

“You don’t need to stockpile boxes and boxes. Think about everyone else who’s coming in, who might be unwell, who need that as well.

“It’s a bit like toilet paper – you don’t need to stock up for six months.”