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Looking positive: Young raises hopes lockdown can still be lifted on Sunday

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The schools outbreak has infected another 16 people but the Chief Health Officer believes Queensland is on the verge of an unprecedented fightback.

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While Queensland reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 this morning, the largest daily increase in over a year, 11 of those were among the mostly vaccinated crew members on an LNG tanker off Gladstone.

The 16 new community-acquired cases were all linked to the Brisbane schools cluster – as with 16 cases reported yesterday – and came from another day of more than 50,000 tests being conducted (setting a new daily record of 52,351). They comprised of 12 students and their household contacts from Ironside State School, and two students, a teacher and a household contact from Brisbane Grammar.

There were already 65 people with COVID-19 in hospital and another 20 being treated at home, many of them children. Some health services continue to be postponed, partly because a large number of health workers have been caught up in the schools quarantine cordon.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said there were encouraging signs the lockdown was working: only four of the new cases spent any time infectious in the community, for a total of five days.

“And those five days were while we were in lockdown,” Young said.

“That is what you want to happen.”

Young had previously said that she would need all cases to be linked, and in quarantine while infectious, for the lockdown to be lifted.

Today, the experienced public health officer conceded she “didn’t expect us to be so far in front of the virus” at this point in the outbreak.

If the testing rate remains high, new cases continue to be linked, and people continue to follow the rules – particularly the 7,766 people subject to home quarantine orders – Young believes this run of the Delta variant will be stopped in its tracks.

Young suggested that would see “the quickest response to any significant cluster anywhere” and allow the lockdown to be lifted at 4pm on Sunday. However, she cautioned that it was still early in the outbreak, and it wouldn’t take much to set it back.

Having urged people in lockdown to remain at home wherever possible, and even avoid unnecessary online ordering lest it put couriers at risk, Young today commended people for holding the line.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the ‘care army’ and non-government organisations would help overrun supermarket chains to deliver orders in the western suburbs where thousands remain in home quarantine.

Miles thanked those in home quarantine, saying “they are our first line of defence against this outbreak, they are doing a service to all Queenslanders”.

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said apart from people still being found without masks in public, “overall we’re very satisfied, we think there’s been improving compliance”.

No new cases have been linked to the Cairns marine pilot whose infection was announced yesterday, and all – apart from the Gladstone crew members – are in the 11 local government areas subject to the lockdown.

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