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Donuts all round: Premier lauds 80 per cent landmark 'before Covid wave arrives'

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Queensland has hit the 80 per cent double vaccinated milestone four days ahead of the borders reopening and 680 days since the State recorded its first COVID-19 case.

 

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said reaching 80 per cent without an active COVID-19 outbreak was a great achievement.

“Very few places in the world have got to this level of protection before a COVID wave arrives,” she told AAP.

“The credit for this belongs to each and every Queenslander.

“But we can’t stop here: let’s get to 90 per cent and beyond. Please, get vaccinated.”

Thursday was also a double donut day – no locally acquired cases and no overseas cases.

Deputy Premier Steve Miles, speaking at warehouse in Hamilton, to announce construction of a new facility for Queensland biomedical company Vaxxas to begin manufacturing needle-free vaccines, was also celebrating.

“Today is a historic day – the day 80 per cent of us were double vaccinated against COVID-19,” Miles said.

“We can also announce it is a double donut day, no cases of COVID in the community or in quarantine.”

But, he said, the virus is coming our way.

“It might be one of our last. From next week we should expect to start seeing COVID cases,” Miles said, referring to the border reopening to southern hotspots. Victoria recorded 1232 new cases  on Thursday and nine deaths and New South Wales had 404 new cases and one death.

“We should have confidence that our high vaccination rate, as well as ongoing public health measures will keep people safe.”

The State’s day of celebration comes as pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and BioNTech revealed a third dose of the vaccine appears to neutralise the new Omicron variant.

The German and US companies said a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralise the new Omicron variant in a laboratory test while two doses resulted in lowering neutralising antibodies by a factor of 25.

Warning against jumping to conclusions from the test, the World Health Organisation said it was too soon to say whether the reduction in neutralising antibodies meant the shot was less effective.

Two men, recent overseas arrivals from South Africa and Nigeria, remain in hospital in Cairns and Brisbane with the Omicron variant and the new strain, Omicron Like.

Miles said the State’s hospitals were well-prepared for whatever comes.

“We have had a long time to prepare, 680 days,” he said referring to the first arrival of the virus into Queensland the declaration of a public health emergency.

Miles’ declaration of preparedness came as the Australian Medical Association Queensland branch warned the public health system was stretched to breaking point and staff were exhausted.

Calling for urgent action to fix ramping and bed block, the AMAQ on Thursday released a five-point action plan to improve patient flow and fix bed block.

“We are stretched to breaking point and it is clear where the problems lie,” Dr Kim Hansen, an emergency physician and Chair of AMA Queensland’s Ramping Roundtable, said.

“We need leadership and accountability, but above all, we need to see action and we need it now.

“Our public hospital system is stretched to breaking point and our staff are worn out.

“There are not enough beds and there are not enough staff. It is as simple as that

“As we head into summer and cyclone season and with the borders reopening, we have no capacity to handle any surges that might come from COVID outbreaks, natural disasters, or other emergencies.”

Miles was also questioned about the Prime Minister telling the nation, via Twitter, and before the State Government was able to do so, about the milestone.

“Well done to Queensland and the NT! Confirming you’ve officially hit 80% double dose vaccination, the target in our National Plan. Thank you to everyone who got their jab. Please get your booster if you’re due and help Australia continue to safely reopen and stay safely open,” the PM said.

It was well before Palaszczuk was able to impart the news, via her own Twitter account.

Miles said it was not a day for claiming credit.

“Look I can understand why the Prime Minister would want to claim credit for this … the credit belongs to all Queenslanders who went and got vaccinated and of course the health workers who rolled out the vaccination program,” Miles said.

“I guess in some ways that tweet, giving us the data sooner than we would otherwise get it … (it’s) the first thing Scott Morrison has done to help,” he said, in a swipe at the country’s leader.

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