Terrified Queenslanders are calling Triple Zero or rushing to emergency departments after receiving a positive Covid test even if their symptoms are mild.
Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard on Thursday urged panicked residents to monitor their symptoms at home because the disease will be mild for almost everyone.
‘Most people, particularly those who have been vaccinated, will be relatively well. The illness will be mild in the vast majority of you and can be managed at home,’ he said.
Former Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk used dramatic rhetoric to describe coronavirus as they urged residents to follow their rules
Queenslanders are still getting used to living with Covid two weeks after the state – which detected a record 2,222 new cases on Thursday – finally opened its borders to the rest of the nation.
The rush on hospitals comes after the state’s former chief health officer Jeanette Young used hyperbolic language to describe Covid – including calling the virus ‘insidious’ – while urging residents to follow her rules over 2020 and 2021.
Premier Palaszczuk, who repeatedly imposed draconian lockdowns and restrictions on Brisbane and the Gold Coast over just one or a handful of cases, was also accused of fearmongering throughout the pandemic, including by describing clusters in NSW as ‘alarming’ and threatening ever harsher border controls.
Professor Emma McBryde, a disease modeller at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine at James Cook University, said premiers and chief health officers were guilty of over-reacting during outbreaks in Victoria and NSW over winter.
‘I think it’s really wearing thin these endless news cycles of chief health officers – and premiers for that matter – talking down to us, telling us what we should be doing and overreacting endlessly to Covid outbreaks and doing what they think might be popular at the time,’ she told Daily Mail Australia in July.
‘If you’re chief health officer and you haven’t got a health department handle on one case, you shouldn’t be showing your face in public as far as I’m concerned,’ she said
Premier Palaszczuk repeatedly imposed draconian lockdowns on Brisbane (pictured) and the Gold Coast over just one or a handful of cases. Pictured:
There are now 8,586 active cases in Queensland but not a single one is in ICU.
The new figure announced on Thursday follows 1,589 cases yesterday, of which 80 per cent were determined to be the Omicron variant.
Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said the virus was now present in 30 LGAs across the state.
Dr Gerrard warned Queenslanders they would be talking about ‘tens of thousands’ of cases in coming weeks but urged residents not worry because the disease is mild.
The state recorded just four cases on December 13, when its border reopened to hotspot states such as New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT.
Drivers queue for Covid-19 PCR tests at a testing site in Boondall, Brisbane
Dr Gerrard encouraged Queenslanders to continue to use the state’s check-in app despite reports health authorities were no longer utilising it for contact tracing.
He foreshadowed changes to use of the app in coming days.
The chief health officer said it was not the intention to impose further lockdowns in communities with lower vaccination rates such as Thursday Island, where 11 new infections had been detected in the past 48 hours.
Dr Gerrard said it was clear if Australia continued with its ‘current settings’ on close contacts, it wouldn’t function because too may people will end up in quarantine.
‘We are not going to stop the Omicron virus. There are some things we can do to slow the spread… masks are important,’ he said.
‘The number of people we expect to be infected with this virus is very large, very large, all of us will know someone who is infected.
‘But it’s important to remember that most people don’t get critically ill, it’s a small proportion.’
‘We are not going to stop the Omicron virus. The number of people we expect to be infected with this virus is very large, very large,’ Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said, while reassuring people the Omicron variant appeared milder then previous variants
He said Queenslanders needed to think about working from home in January to help slow the spread of Omicron ‘but not lockdowns’.
Dr Gerrard said the good news is infection with Omicron appeared to produce less severe illness, and doctors he had spoken with could distinguish between those with the Omicron an those with Delta.
‘It appears to be milder, it’s not trivial, but it is a little bit milder,’ he said.
‘It has a downside in that it’s much more contagious than Delta but on the good side it does appear to be a milder disease.’
Yesterday Dr Gerrard revealed health authorities were ‘winding back’ certain public health measures, including widespread contact tracing, as the pandemic progressed.
‘In broad terms, we are pulling back to isolating those who are sick, and their immediate household contacts, that is the main group that we are contacting,’ Dr Gerrard said.
‘We are doing we are doing less direct contact tracing in businesses like restaurants and cafes.
‘We cannot afford to quarantine the entire population of Queensland, we know that, and this pandemic is progressing it has always been expected to progress.’
Dr Gerrard said 90.52 per cent of eligible Queenslanders aged 16 years and over had now received a first dose of a Covid vaccine, while 86.19 per cent were doubled dosed.
‘This is the first time Queenslanders will really experience the true pandemic,’ Dr Gerrard said of the current widespread Omicron outbreak in the state
He said Queensland Health had seven million rapid antigen tests on order for the state and the tests were already being used in the state’s emergency departments.
‘This is the first time Queenslanders will really experience the true pandemic,’ Dr Gerrard said.
‘If we are going to experience this pandemic, then January is probably the time for this to happen, because it’s warm and we know the virus spread more easily in the cooler months and schools are on leave at this time.’
Ms Grace said there was no plans to change the Queensland school calendar as yet as the Omicron variant spread. She said the possibility of a mask mandate in schools would be considered closer to the date when schools returned in January.
Queensland recorded just four cases on December 13, when its border reopened to hotspot states such as New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, and now has 2,222 cases
Source: Daily Mail