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Restrictions ease at 6am but nurses fear they’re still at risk of COVID-19

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Three nurses were infected in the latest COVID-19 outbreaks. The Palaszczuk Government is under pressure to explain how staff will be protected in future.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced the restrictions imposed during the outbreaks, which culminated in a three-day lockdown of greater Brisbane, would be lifted early.

From 6am Thursday, visitors will be allowed back into aged care and disability services facilities and prisons, masks will no longer be mandatory, stand-up drinking and dancing will be permitted in venues and stadia will go back to full capacity.

“Queenslanders have done a mighty job and I want to thank everyone,” said Palaszczuk, who was acting on the advice of Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

There has been no new community transmission of COVID-19, and all previous cases linked back to outbreaks linked to the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Princess Alexandra Hospital, and more contagious UK variant of COVID-19.

However, the raising of a cap on international travel, likely to see an increase in COVID-19 cases detected in hotel quarantine and transferred to hospital, has the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union concerned about the ongoing risk to members.

Another two travellers tested positive to COVID-19 overnight, both from Papua New Guinea, which is in the grip of an epidemic.

With the PA Hospital’s infectious diseases ward still closed for cleaning, the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union is pushing for staff to have the best, and best fitting, Personal Protective Equipment.

This afternoon, the union will raise the issue in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, having failed to receive an adequate response from Queensland Health.

“We’re now extremely concerned that nurses and other health workers treating COVID positive and, potentially positive patients, are not being properly fit tested for their PPE – and the consequences of this, could be catastrophic,” said union secretary Beth Mohle.

“The QNMU has called on QH to provide an audit of the numbers of workers being fit-tested; the type of fit-testing undertaken and who is undertaking the fit testing. So far, the response from QH has been inadequate. It’s a public health issue which continues to put frontline nurses and the people they treat each and every day, at real risk of COVID-19.”

Palaszczuk said she believed nurses were adequately protected, and additional safeguards had been brought in, but suggested the government experts would respond in due course.

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