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Hold tight: Queensland records highest number of active cases in three months

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Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has tightened hotel quarantine arrangements and urged Queenslanders to be prepared to wear a mask if needed.

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All of Queensland’s recent cases have come from returning overseas travellers diagnosed in hotel quarantine. That includes another three people who tested positive to COVID-19 overnight, taking the number of active cases to 12 – the highest since early August, and even higher than the worst-hit state Victoria.

It comes as Queensland continues to ease restrictions, allowing for a bumper crowd at the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium last night – including Young and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

While confident the hotel quarantine risk is contained – unlike some other states, Queensland transfers any infected travellers to hospital – Young said workers would be tested on a weekly basis to prevent any leaks.

South Australia has gone into lockdown after the virus leaked out of quarantine and into the community, while Victoria’s mega-outbreak was exacerbated by numerous hotel quarantine failures. Queensland has managed to avoid community transmission for some time, with the sudden SA border restrictions considered more of a bump on the roadmap to recovery. Victoria today imposed a “hard border” on SA, however NSW is so far only warning against SA travel.

Young said that while Queensland has started easing restrictions, and organisations can start to “undo” their COVIDSafe plans in line with the latest directions, she wanted to be confident the state could respond quickly to any new threat. She called on all Queenslanders to have a ready supply of masks in case she needs to “immediately go out and say ‘right, it’s now time for everyone to put a mask on when they leave their house’.”

“We should all start to think about using them and being prepared to use them,” Young said.

Young emphasised the most effective preventive measure was still to stop infected people being in the community, as Queensland had done by re-imposing travel restrictions on people from Adelaide. Greater Sydney and Victoria are also subject to travel restrictions, due for review on November 30.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said there had been an increased take-up of testing since Monday, partly in response to the SA situation, with more than 7000 conducted yesterday.

Offering support to SA, D’Ath said she was disappointed to see Queensland still criticised and mocked by state and federal conservatives for its response to the threat.

“I don’t think this is the time for criticism or jokes,” D’Ath said.

Parliament will resume next week and again allow all 93 members to be in the Legislative Assembly. D’Ath said there would still be restrictions, due to it being an indoor event as opposed to an outdoor environment, but in line with the latest directives.

Young said the State of Origin game was well-managed, with all ticket-holders able to be contacted if required and people encouraged to take precautions entering and leaving the stadium. Being an outdoor event, and with contact-tracing arrangements in place, meant more people were allowed into the venue.

“It was a fantastic outcome for Queensland, it was a brilliant game, and it was good to see so many people coming together and celebrating,” Young said.

Young and D’Ath encouraged organisations to review their COVIDSafe plans.

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