QUEENSLAND has recorded 40 new cases of the novel coronavirus overnight, taking the state’s total to 781 – an increase of just five per cent.
It comes as a top Queensland police officer has admitted there is a great deal of confusion regulating social distancing in the community, preventing cops from fining people. But that hasn’t stopped officers at one Brisbane shopping centre from taking action.
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The growth rate continues to drop in Queensland, suggesting strict social distancing measures, quarantine and border controls are working.
Queensland Health Director-General John Wakefield said nine patients were in intensive care, seven of them on ventilators.
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Queensland infections represent 16.6 per cent of the Australian total of 4707 cases, despite the Sunshine State having 20 per cent of the national population.
NSW, which makes up almost a third of the Australian population, has 2182 cases of pandemic coronavirus, close to half of the nation’s cases.
Queensland has conducted more than 50,800 tests for the virus in the past two months.
Across the world, more than 826,000 infections with the new virus have been recorded, including about 40,700 deaths.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the state continued to remain free of significant community transmission of the virus.
“Police have been working very hard at both airports and at roads – our land borders – to manage people coming in from other states,” Dr Young said. “Our biggest concern is those travellers coming to us from Sydney and Melbourne, because they do have community spread and that means they don’t know everyone in their community who has the infection.”
Dr Young told a news conference in Townsville that social distancing measures across the country essentially “put a border in front of every person’s door”.
She said people should not be leaving home except for reasons such as buying essential supplies, accessing health care, providing support to a vulnerable person or going to work if the job could not be done at home.
She said school attendance rates had dropped to five to 10 per cent of normal numbers this week, mostly the children of essential workers.
Dr Young said exercise was also an acceptable reason for being outside the home, but this did not include sunbathing on the local beach.
“People need to get out and … exercise. That is so important and that needs to continue,” Dr Young said.
“But it can only be done in your immediate family or in a group of two. Maybe go and play golf with two people in that group, not the regular four. Or go and play tennis with two people, not doubles.”
POLICE TURN SHOPPERS AWAY FROM SHOPPING CENTRE
Shoppers in Wynnum have been sent home as police officers enforced strict isolation measures at a local shopping centre this afternoon.
Officers were checking people were observing social distancing, gathering in pairs only and were only buying necessities at Wynnum Plaza around lunchtime today.
Wynnum Plaza is home to two grocery stores, two liquor stores and a chemist, as well as Kmart and several specialty stores.
It is believed no fines were issued, only warnings.
A Queensland Police spokesperson could not comment on individual compliance cases but said patrols such as these formed part of officers’ regular duties at the moment.
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD
JETS TO HELP WITH REGIONAL COVID-19 FIGHT
RACQ Lifeflight have added new weapons to the fight against regional coronavirus cases, announcing the acquisition of three new rescue jets to support their Queensland operations.
The new arrangement between the long-standing medical charity and the Queensland Government will see an additional aircraft added to the two already announced last week by Health and Ambulance Services Minister Dr Steven Miles, bringing the number of aircraft up to three.
The new fleet will include one Challenger 604 based out of Brisbane, with an additional Challenger 604 and Learjet 45 to be based out of Townsville, all three equipped to be the equivalent of an intensive care unit.
“The Learjets can fly at over 820km/h, while the Challenger can reach 1,050km/h,” LifeFlight Coordination Centre Director Brian Guthrie said.
The fleet will primarily be used to help those in more remote regions of Queensland be able to access appropriate medical treatments from major medical centres, including the movement of regional patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“In preparation for transporting suspected and confirmed coronavirus patients we have adjusted the configuration of both aircraft so they’re able to have either a single stretcher or a dual stretcher, depending on the acuity of the patient,” Mr Guthrie said.
– Nathan Edwards
ABF OFFICER IN QUARANTINE
AN Australian Border Force official based in Queensland has tested positive to the novel coronavirus.
Queensland Health last night confirmed a border force official had been infected but it was unclear where he was working when he came in contact with the virus.
The Department of Home Affairs also confirmed a second Australian Border Force officer from NSW tested positive for COVID-19.
Most of Queensland’s 743 cases so far have been in people returning from overseas or their close contacts.
Border Force officials would have come in contact with many people arriving on International flights during the coronavirus pandemic.
– Janelle Miles