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‘This is heartbreaking’: Minister tests positive, state suffers 11 deaths

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Queensland’s Education Minister has contracted Covid-19 and is isolating at home as the State’s schools prepare to resume.

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News that Grace Grace has the virus comes as the number of people in hospital in Queensland with COVID-19 jumped overnight and another 11 people lost their lives.

“I know this is very heartbreaking to families…none of this is easy,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said from Townsville on Tuesday.

The new cases come as the number of virus cases in Queensland’s hospitals increase “significantly” to a total of 928.

The figure includes 51 patients in intensive care, 13 of whom are on ventilators.

The State recorded 9546 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, down from 10,212 the day before.

Minister Grace attended Cabinet this week via phone and news that she has the virus comes as the Government hammers out a plan for the start of school on February 7.

But so far there is no confirmation that school pupils and teachers will be given rapid antigen tests each week as will occur in New South Wales and Victorian schools.

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard, speaking alongside the Premier in Townsville, said that of the 11 deaths, one person was in their 50s, one in their 60s, two in their 70s, three in their 80s and four in their 90s.

He said of these, four were unvaccinated, one had had one dose and six were double dosed. None of those who died, had yet received a booster shot, now available three months after the second shot.

And the number of people now in Queensland hospitals is rising.

Dr Gerrard said the 928 people currently in hospital was a “significant rise” from the 878 recorded on Monday.

Of those in hospital, 51 are in intensive care and 13 are on ventilators.

Dr Gerrard said that the progress of the Omicron variant, which first surfaced in late 2021 in Southern Africa, was following a similar march across the world almost simultaneously.

He said that Brisbane was expected to reach the peak of the Omicron wave within the next week while Cairns will hit the peak in the next few days.

“There is no question that as we approach the peak there will be strain and stress on individual hospitals but the peak appears to be slightly less in most areas …the hospitals are coping well at this stage,” Dr Gerrard said.

Palaszczuk said that only 50.25 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have so far had their booster shot and 26.54 per cent of children aged five to 11 years had received the first dose.

Queensland is now just short of having 90 per cent of the population double-vaccinated with the figure sitting at 89.18 per cent.

Palaszczuk said that her Education Minister had given her consent for her COVID-19 status to be made public.

“We wish her a speedy recovery,” she said, adding that wanted the Minister present for the upcoming announcement on school resumption.

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