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Young 'amazed' as Qld shrugs off virus clusters - Minister says it's party time

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Queensland has gone two weeks without someone being infectious in the community. Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young did not expect it to be that easy.

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After an alleged border breach by two young women led to the novel coronavirus being brought to Queensland, causing clusters in Logan, the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre, a corrective services training facility and Ipswich Hospital, Young feared it would be difficult to contain.

Young today conceded she had expected the number of cases to be far greater than the 55 recorded, even if a “missing link” has gone undetected along the way.

“I thought we’d have a lot more cases than 55 … I was amazed that we managed to contain it,” Young said, after another day with no new cases in Queensland.

Young put the good outcome down to the rapid response from Queensland Health, quarantine rules, a high rate of testing she wants to sustain, and the support of Queenslanders.

“We need to be ready if we do have another incursion … (but) we now know we can manage those incursions,” Young said.

As foreshadowed, restrictions on visits to hospitals, aged care facilities and disability services in cluster areas of south-east Queensland will be lifted from 1am Friday, while the number of people allowed in a household will rise from 10 to 30.

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles quipped that “people can go ahead and organise that house party for Friday night”.

The easing of restrictions comes after a hotspot designation on the ACT was lifted and the border zone was extended further south into NSW. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has foreshadowed further changes in the coming weeks.

Australia’s worst-hit state, Victoria, recorded 12 new cases and two deaths overnight as the 14-day rolling case average continues to fall. NSW recorded one new case, the source of which remains under investigation. In a best case scenario, NSW would need to have a clear month of no community cases for Queensland to reopen the border – a decision that would coincide with the state election on October 31.

Miles again took aim at the federal government for coinciding the decision with the withdrawal of support from Australian Defence Force personnel. He again blamed Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and said federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was lying when he claimed Queensland had not asked that the support to continue into October.

Queensland police will continue manning the borders and some ADF personnel will remain in place at quarantine hotels, while others return to normal duties in preparation for storm season. If NSW can sustain no community transmission of COVID-19 for a month, the border will be reopened to the state, possibly before Christmas, although Victoria will remain restricted.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she hoped Morrison would allow Queensland to continue using ADF personnel into October as other states are doing.

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