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Premier 'comfortable' with two new cases, but 90 public places now on alert list

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The COVID clusters in southeast Queensland continue to grow but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is confident everything is under control.

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In Cairns today for meetings, Palaszczuk confirmed two new cases had been recorded overnight, linked to existing cases in the urban south-east.

“We’re very comfortable with that,” Palaszczuk told local reporters.

Queensland has had three clusters in recent weeks, all thought to be connected and having originated in Victoria. They centre on Logan, the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre and a corrective services training facility at Wacol.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the two new cases were linked to the detention centre: one is a healthcare worker in her 30s who lives with someone already infected, the other is a student at Staines Memorial College.

A nurse at Ipswich Hospital, two other students at the college, a detention centre supervisor, corrective services trainer, aged care worker and an early childhood worker have already been infected in those clusters, leading to mass lockdowns and restrictions.

Miles said the number of tests being conducted had surged back to 18,151 in a 24-hour period, which added confidence that active cases were being detected.

“We need to continue our high levels of testing,” Miles said.

Queensland has not had an infection-free day in a week and most of south-east Queensland is now subject to restrictions on gatherings and visits to health, aged care, disability services, detention and corrective services facilities.

After Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young suggested masks might be necessary in some circumstances, Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders to keep doing the right thing.

“Just remember, keep up your social distancing, that good hand hygiene, and if you’re sick please go and get tested,” Palaszczuk said.

Queensland Health has extended the list of public places visited by people later found to be infectious. After adding the Fig Tree Pocket Early Childhood Centre to the list on Tuesday night (relating to a visit on August 21), the number of places subject to an alert rose to 86. It is expected to be extended again today.

Victoria, Australia’s worst-hit state, recorded another 90 cases overnight and six further deaths. Since the pandemic began, Victoria has recorded 570 deaths associated with COVID-19 – that is 10 times more than NSW and almost 100 times more than Queensland.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott, meanwhile, has sparked controversy after suggesting “governments need to consider uncomfortable questions about the number of deaths they’re prepared to live with”.

Abbott’s former Cabinet colleague, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, rejected his comments, saying governments were not discussing “sacrificing the health and the lives of any of our fellow Australians”.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has renewed her criticism of Queensland’s border restrictions, saying Palaszczuk “has made a decision and isn’t willing to talk about that decision and is refusing to budge”.

NSW recorded 17 new cases overnight – only one already in quarantine,

Palaszczuk, who has also been critical of Berejiklian but claims to work with all leaders, said the border restrictions were necessary and would remain for at least another month. She used her visit to urge Queenslanders to visit Cairns, to help support local businesses, and welcome the likely AFL grand final to Brisbane.

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