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Surge in quarantine cases may force national cabinet to put Plan B back on table

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Queensland recorded seven new cases of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine overnight, the highest infectious inflow of travellers in months.

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The number of active COVID-19 cases now stands at 21, the most since early January when greater Brisbane was in lockdown.

Authorities are paying particular attention to a newly-arrived Russian variant of the virus, detected in two travellers. Tests have been conducted on a third traveller, on the same Qantas flight from Doha, and all passengers will be kept in quarantine longer as a precaution.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles today said Queenslanders should feel reassured that new cases were being identified swiftly.

“What we should take heart in, and take confidence in, is that our health services are identifying them,” Miles said.

But with more contagious strains, and infection control challenges in hotels, Miles again called on the Morrison Government to support purpose-built quarantine centres outside of major cities. It follows hotel breaches in several cities, leading to lockdowns.

One such proposal for Wellcamp airport near Toowoomba has been at an impasse, still needing commonwealth approval for repatriation flights to land there instead of Brisbane.

Victoria has refused to accept any flights since last month’s five-day lockdown. Premier Daniel Andrews today said the state’s health experts were still examining the potential health risks in quarantine.

Miles said the commonwealth had all the information it needed to divert flights away from Brisbane – the Wellcamp proposal would effectively be self-funded – and Prime Minister Scott Morrison should commit at National Cabinet tomorrow.

“The time for excuses from Scott Morrison is over,” Miles said.

Miles also defended Queensland’s slow start to COVID-19 vaccinations. He said the initial supply of vaccines was limited and, with Queensland being a decentralised state, it was important to build up with confidence that hundreds of thousands of vaccinations could be delivered each week at peak.

“It’s incredibly important that people have confidence in this vaccine rollout,” Miles said.

The latest Queensland Health data shows more than 5400 people have received COVID-19 vaccinations since the rollout began last week.

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