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Health chief: Worst of Omicron wave will be over in a few weeks


Queensland’s chief health officer has taken a “no regrets” approach to the wave of cases sweeping the state predicts the worst of the Omicron strain will be over in a few weeks.

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Describing the decision to open up Queensland’s border before Christmas as the right one, John Gerrard said the highly infectious nature of the Omicron strain meant it would have gotten into the community even if the state remained closed to the rest of the nation.

“We have to have this wave and we know it will generate immunity in the community,” he said.

“The general pattern that happens with pandemics over history is that you get a big wave and it gets smaller … you may get smaller waves in the future and as time goes by the virus becomes endemic.”

He said the current wave of infections in Queensland would probably peak in a few week’s time.

“The question is whether there will be another wave this winter and that will be purely speculative,” Dr Gerrard said.

Speaking after announcing Queensland had recorded another 6781 Covid-19 cases, he said those with minor virus symptoms should stay home.

Most of the new cases were milder with more than 17,000 are being supported in home isolation.

He urged people to only consider going to hospital if they’re suffering breathlessness, chest pain, fainting or dizziness.

“We’ve had a lot of reports of people dialling triple zero the moment they get a diagnosis at Covid-19, even with very mild symptoms, and that really is causing a problem in many of our emergency departments, and it’s not necessary,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

People with mild symptoms, he said, regardless of whether they’ve been tested, should assume they have the virus and isolate for seven days.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said households should prepare in case someone gets Covid-19.

“Go get yourself a thermometer, make sure you’ve got some Nurofen or Panadol, those sorts of things, at home,” she said.

Testing clinics have been overrun in recent days as thousands of people line up or queue in traffic for swabs.

Ms D’Ath said staffing shortages caused by the outbreak have led to the closure of a number of private testing clinics.

A spike in positive test results has made it unfeasible for labs to quickly process samples in batches, further delaying the process.

Gerrard said only people with symptoms, a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) result or close household contacts should be lining up for PCR tests at the moment.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 18 million RATs would start being distributed from state-run testing clinics from Thursday.

Ms Palaszczuk said she didn’t regret opening the domestic borders ahead of the Christmas break.

“We had a national plan and the national plan was to reunite families,” she said.

“That was the national plan that every other state and territory – Western Australia’s a bit different – followed.”

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