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Cluster all clear: Lockdown fears ease as almost 1,000 families remain in isolation

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Queensland has recorded no new cases of locally-acquired COVID-19 but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wants people vaccinated before the virus returns.

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A mini-cluster at Beenleigh currently only has three confirmed cases of COVID-19: a 46-year-old man who works as an interstate truck driver, a family friend and her four-year-old daughter.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young today said 17 children and three staff at a childcare centre attended by the four-year-old girl had tested negative, but as close contacts would still need to complete 14 days of home quarantine.

All but two of the 36 children at Windaroo State School who go to after-hours care have also tested negative but the uncertainty meant the school community remained in isolation.

“We’re just working with the last two children, two young girls, who at this stage their family don’t want them to be tested,” Young said.

“If they don’t the 900 or so families will have to remain in quarantine.”

There had been fears for a nail salon visited by the man and the four-year-old girl, but the customer who sat next to her has so far tested negative, as have five staff, and Young said they were considered most at risk.

Young said contact tracers were working with police to identify three or four customers who had yet to make themselves known to Queensland Health. While she was concerned about the time lost, she was confident the threat of community transmission was decreasing, in part due to the school community contributing.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has come under scrutiny over her refusal to commit to any timeframe to open the border to NSW, and today dismissed questions about plans for Australia to open up more broadly.

“Our cafes, our bars, our restaurants, our shops, our retail, our businesses, our mining communities are open,” Palaszczuk said.

“We are open.”

While media coverage at the weekend focussed on crowds of people meeting across the border barricade on the Gold Coast, Queensland police opted for a compliance approach – masks were handed out, and only one person fined – and Palaszczuk said it was up to NSW police to enforce the state’s lockdown.

Young said the “big risk” to Queensland is truck drivers because “they’re one of the few groups that can freely move out of hot spots and into Queensland”.

The 46-year-old was one of several truck drivers to have brought COVID-19 to Queensland, and then been infectious in the community, although some have since returned to NSW.

NSW has ramped up its vaccination campaign since the Sydney outbreak put the state into lockdown, and, by comparison, progress in Queensland appears to have slowed.

Palaszczuk reiterated, as she has for several weeks, that only 30 per cent of Queensland’s vaccination effort was the responsibility of Queensland Health, and the rest the responsibility of the Commonwealth through GPs, pharmacies and other clinics.

But she expressed concern that demand for vaccines was not keeping up with increasing supplies.

“Now is the time to get vaccinated – not when the virus gets here,” Palaszczuk said.

Queensland Health has targeted communities with low vaccination coverage around Brisbane, as well as along the border, and on Wednesday will open a new mass vaccination centre at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre at Boondall.

Young said GPs had Pfizer, in addition to AstraZeneca, so anyone needing a vaccine should make a booking as soon as possible.

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