An irritated Annastacia Palaszczuk has shut down a reporter after the Queenslander Premier was asked whether she had regrets about re-opening the state’s border during the Omicron outbreak.
Ms Palaszczuk was giving the Queensland Covid update at a warehouse at Inala, south-west of Brisbane, when the testy exchange occurred.
‘Most of the 85 people who have died from Covid since the border opened hadn’t had a booster shot – do you have any regrets about deciding to open the border when you knew Omicron was there…’ the reporter asked.
Ms Palaszczuk snippily replied: ‘You were screaming at me to open the border, I find it a bit ironic you would ask me that question now.
‘Do you have any regrets?’ the reporter persisted.
‘No I don’t, the Federal government had all the information about the Omicron variant and they said it was safe to do so,’ the premier replied.
‘Now what I’m concerned about, is I want our children to get vaccinated, and I want the booster shots done.’
The exchange with the reporter came as Ms Palaszczuk announced a drop in Covid cases to 16,031 new infections in the state but with 13 deaths on Friday, as changes to eligibility for booster shots were confirmed.
Ms Palaszczuk said from next Monday, Queenslanders will be able to come forward for booster jabs three months after a second shot of a Covid vaccine, rather than four months.
She said 91.76 per cent of Queenslanders had now received a first dose of vaccine and 89 per cent were now double dosed.
Ms Palaszczuk said Queenslander’s QR code check-in system would not be dropped, despite calls from local mayors for it to be retired.
‘We are going through a wave at the moment, it will peak in the next two weeks, and I need people to continue to check in,’ she said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said from next Monday, Queenslanders will be able to come forward for booster jabs three months after a second shot of a Covid vaccine, rather than four months
Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said of the 13 deaths, two people were in their 60s, five were in the 70s, five in their 80s, and one in their 90s.
One person was unvaccinated, one had received a single dose of vaccine, eight had received two doses and one had received three jabs.
‘Were it not for widescale vaccination in Queensland today, we would not be talking about 855 people in hospital, we would be talking about thousands of people in hospital and almost certainly, our hospital system would be overwhelmed by now,’ Dr Gerrard said.
He said 855 people were currently in hospital with Covid, up from 805 yesterday, with 54 people in ICU. and 22 on ventilation.
Ms Palaszczuk said the state had increased its order of rapid antigen tests from 18 million units to 23 million units.
She said one million RATs had just arrived in the state and two million more would be available in the next couple of weeks.
Ms Palaszczuk thanked Prime Minister Scott Morrison for supporting the Therapeutic Goods Administration in working with the Queensland government to make it easier for local manufacturers of RATs such as Ellume and AnteoGen to achieve accreditation of their tests.
Ms Palaszczuk urged parents to ensure their 5 to 11-year-old children get vaccinated in the next two weeks before Queensland schools resume on February 7. Pictured: A child is vaccinated at a Brisbane clinic
The Premier urged parents to ensure their 5 to 11-year-old children get vaccinated in the next two weeks before Queensland schools resume on February 7.
‘We’ve got two weeks to continue to get our children vaccinated,’ she said.
Ms Palaszczuk said a ‘back-to-schools’ plan will be released after a cabinet meeting next Monday but that surveillance testing of school children would not be required at this stage.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said 40 per cent of Queenslanders currently eligible for a booster had yet to come forward, and that this figure will increase as the eligibility window is reduced to three months after a second dose from Monday.
Meanwhile, Queensland doctors working on the front line of the state’s COVID-19 outbreak say they’re in the dark about government plans to protect them during the upcoming peak.
Another nine virus deaths were recorded on Thursday, taking Queensland’s pandemic death toll to 72.
The state announced 16,812 cases yesterday, with 850 people being treated in hospital and 48 in ICU.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard expects hospitalisations to peak in the ‘low thousands’ in coming weeks, but a union representing doctors in public hospitals say they haven’t seen any COVID-safe workforce plans yet.
The Queensland branch of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation says the state’s Industrial Relations Commission has ordered the government to share data on how many doctors have had P95 masks fit-tested, its plans for staff testing and for managing health workers during the surge.
But AMSOFQ president Dr Hau Tan says doctors are being kept in the dark about the government’s plans to protect them.
Ms Palaszczuk said Queensland had increased its order of rapid antigen tests from 18 million units to 23 million units, and that two million more units would arrive in the state in the coming weeks
‘Queensland Health had not complied with another QIRC recommendation to provide …the Covid-19 workforce surge plans or Covid-19 safe workplace plans for all Hospital and Health Services,’ he said in a statement.
‘We also demanded that Queensland Health provide easily accessible and up-to-date information regarding Covid testing for staff …across the state.
‘Public hospital doctors have gone above and beyond for the past two years, and are already pushed to the limit.
‘As doctors put themselves in harm’s way to care for patients during this current Omicron wave, we need to see more from Queensland Health to protect their health and safety.’
The complaint comes as it was revealed up to 5,000 workers at the Queensland Government’s headquarters in William Street, Brisbane, were told they must prove they had received a first dose of a Covid vaccine by this Sunday and a second by February 20.