Qld concern over slowing COVID vaccination

Marty Silk |

Queensland has recorded twice as many COVID-19 deaths than the previous day, with authorities concerned more people are at risk with vaccinations slowing.

Sixteen people died with the virus in the latest reporting period to 6.30am on Tuesday, up from seven the previous day, in the state’s deadliest day of the pandemic so far.

Three were in their 70s, eight were in their 80s, four were in their 90s and one was aged over 100.

None had received a booster shot. Four of them were unvaccinated, two had received one dose and 10 were double-dosed.

Of the 45 people who died with COVID-19 in Queensland since December 13, just one of them had received a third jab, the state’s health minister said.

“Particularly if you are elderly and vulnerable, please come forward and get your booster,” Yvette D’Ath told reporters on Tuesday.

“We know that it makes a difference.”

The number of deaths among aged care residents who had not received a booster was concerning, she said, amid reports GPs were struggling to secure vaccine supplies from the Commonwealth.

There has also been a slowing in the rate that 20 to 39-year-olds are getting their second doses, she said.

That main cohort of COVID-19 infections in Queensland are in that age group, with Ms D’Ath stressing they should still get the jab.

“Please keep coming forward and getting vaccinated because your natural immunity will not be enough,” she said.

“You do need to get your vaccination as well.”

The latest figures show 91.65 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one dose of a vaccine, while 88.82 per cent have had two.

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said there were 819 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospital and another 50 in intensive care, with 18 people on ventilators in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning.

He said the hospitalisation figures for Mondays were often higher due to a lag in data on discharges from the weekend, so it was hard to tell how quickly the numbers were rising.

“But clearly the numbers are going up, there’s no question about that,” Dr Gerrard said. 

“And that is what we’ve been predicting – we’re heading towards our peak that is still projected to be towards the end of this month.”

As the state’s outbreak continues to surge, the government will limit the number of visitors allowed in hospitals.

Ms D’Ath said from Tuesday only two visitors will be allowed in hospital wards at any time, and patients will only be allowed to bring one companion into emergency departments.

“We have had some reports from hospital and health services that they’re seeing large groups of family members coming into the emergency department together and we really need to reduce the number of people coming into our EDs and moving around our wards at the moment,” she said.

“We’re not putting a complete ban on visitors as we have had to do previously, but we are limiting the numbers.” 

The minister said there would be exceptions to the hospital visitor limits for maternity and palliative care patients, as well as for end-of-life visits.