The Queensland Premier has announced border restrictions on interstate travellers will be removed earlier than planned, on the same day the state recorded its largest number of COVID-19 deaths.
- It is the largest number of COVID deaths recorded on a single day in Queensland
- From 1:00am on Saturday border passes and negative tests will no longer be needed to enter from interstate
- The state is expected to reach 90 per cent fully vaccinated by the end of next week
The state has recorded six COVID deaths and confirmed 14,914 new cases in the latest reporting period.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said three of the deaths were people in residential aged care.
Two of those who died were aged in their 70s, three in their 80s and one was aged over 90.
“All had significant underlying medical conditions,” he said.
Five were double vaccinated, one was unvaccinated and none had received a booster shot.
It is the largest number of COVID deaths recorded on a single day in Queensland, with 17 deaths now recorded since the pandemic began almost two years ago.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it “will be a very difficult time” for the families of those who died.
“These are people’s grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles,” she said.
“When you think about during the whole two years of the pandemic, we lost seven people, to lose six in one day is a big shock.”
The Premier said 556 people are being treated for their symptoms in hospital and of those, 26 are in intensive care units. Ten people are on ventilators.
Of the 14,914 new cases recorded in the latest reporting period, 2,812 were positive cases confirmed by at-home rapid antigen (RAT) test.
Changes to border rules
The Premier has also announced Queensland will lift the requirement for domestic travellers to have a negative COVID test and fill out a border pass before entering the state from Saturday morning.
Those requirements were due to be removed when the state hit 90 per cent double-dose vaccination of those 16 and over but will now be lifted early.
“Now is the time for the barricades to come down, and for the police to come home, to continue on their normal operational duties on the front lines,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“The time is now right as we head towards hitting that 90 per cent next week.”
Dr Gerrard said the domestic border restrictions had served their purpose, which was to allow Queenslanders time to access the vaccine.
“Now the virus, as always was expected, is spreading through Queensland, but with a vaccinated population,” he said.
International restrictions will still apply until the state hits the 90 per cent vaccination target.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the government had chosen to wait because “international arrivals are the ones who are going to bring in new variants”.
“We do still have to look very carefully at international arrivals, and particularly unvaccinated international arrivals.”
Governments struggling to buy more rapid antigen tests
Ms Palaszczuk said the states and the federal government were trying to procure as many RATs as possible.
She said those ordered by the state government would be used mainly by close contacts and would be free at testing centres, while those procured by the federal government would be made available to seniors.
“It’s going to be a hot topic of discussion today at national cabinet,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Limits on unvaccinated people remain
Social restrictions will remain in place for unvaccinated people and they would not change when the state reaches the target.
Ms D’Ath also said statements made on social media that the government had decided to allow unvaccinated health workers to return to work were “not correct”.
“We are not planning, nor are we welcoming back unvaccinated health workers into the health system at all,” she said.