Qld child cases rise, concern for parents

Fraser Barton and Marty Silk |

Thousands of Queensland children are catching COVID-19, but authorities are more concerned about the potential risks for their families.

The state recorded another 12 virus deaths and 6596 cases after 10,738 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Wednesday.

There are also 432 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospital and another 34 in intensive care.

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard says another 1905 children have tested positive, up from 1587 new cases the previous day.

He admits there’s been “a bump in cases in children” since school returned last Monday, but he says child hospitalisations are not rising.

“The numbers are not enormous, we had larger numbers only two or three weeks ago, and we have not seen increases in hospitalisations among children,” Dr Gerrard told reporters on Wednesday.

“To me the bigger concern when children get infected is the risk to their parents and their grandparents and that’s why it is so critical that anyone coming in contact with children get the booster.”

The latest figures show that 92.4 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one dose of a vaccine, while 90.38 per cent have had two, and more than 62 per cent have had a booster.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said less than half of all five to 11-year-olds have had one dose, and less than 70 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds had had two jabs.

“It would be really good to have parents coming out and getting those children vaccinated as quickly as possible,” she told reporters.

Few children have needed hospital treatment with authorities more concerned about adult cases, who are much more likely to end up in wards.

Ms D’Ath said even though the outbreak peaked on January 25, she expects COVID-19 patients to be in hospitals for the long term.

“For months and months if not … in future years to come,” the minister said. 

“So we’ll still be managing there but we’re not going to be managing the numbers that we’re seeing today.”

Meanwhile, the state’s hotel quarantine program will end on Thursday with the last guest to be discharged.

All further virus quarantine will be undertaken at a new state-funded camp at Wellcamp, near Toowoomba.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the facility is needed for unvaccinated travellers, cases or close contacts who need to isolate, as well as seasonal workers.

“We don’t know what outbreak is going to happen next and where in the world, so there may be countries that may be deemed that we’ll have to quarantine,” she said.

But the premier refused to reveal what the state paid for Wellcamp, which some reports say is up to $227 million, saying it’s “commercial-in-confidence”.

Ms Palaszczuk then said she would open the books if the Commonwealth government reveelad how much it was spending on a second quarantine facility at Pinkenba, near Brisbane Airport.

“It seems to be one standard for the state and one standard for the federal government,” the premier said.

“I’ve addressed this, I’ve said it’s commercial in confidence.