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One Covid death every hour: Shaken Palaszczuk reveals state's day of heartbreak

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Queensland has chalked up its deadliest day so far since the Covid-19 pandemic began, recording 24 deaths on Wednesday.

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This is double Tuesday’s death toll and by far the highest number of deaths so far during the pandemic.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement at Mon Repos in Bundaberg, where she launched a $5.2 million tourism campaign to kick start Queensland tourism in the wake of the two-year pandemic.

The number of positive Covid-19 cases has jumped significantly in the past 24 hours to 6902 new cases. The figure on Tuesday was 5178.

“It is my sad duty today to report that we have the highest number of deaths we have seen during this pandemic,” said a clearly shaken Palaszczuk.

“We have lost 24 lives over the last 24 hours.

“These are families, these are people’s loved ones.”

Palaszczuk said 16 of the 24 deaths were in aged care facilities.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath expressed her regret at so many lives lost.

“It is very, very sad to announce 24 deaths, 24 deaths in 24 hours. This is a really hard day for … families and loved ones of these individuals,” D’Ath said, adding that each and every death during the pandemic is tragic.

It comes as the State officially hit the magic 90 per cent double dose vaccination target, now sitting at 90.02 per cent. In addition, D’Ath said that 92.22 per cent of Queenslanders had received one dose of the vaccine.

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said that of those who lost their lives, one was in their 50s, two each in their 60s and 70s, 11 in their 80s, seven in their 90s and one who was over 100 years-old.

He said two of those who died had not been vaccinated at all, one had received a single dose, 12 were double dosed, six had received a booster and the vaccination status of three was unknown.

Dr Gerrard said the total number of deaths in aged care was now 176. It comes as the Federal Government announced the military will now be involved in providing assistance at aged care homes, which have been hard hit by the Omicron wave which has swept the southern states since December.

In good news, Dr Gerrard said the number of people in hospital was continuing to fall. In the past 24 hours, there were 628 in public hospitals, down from 663.

This is a significant fall since January 25, when almost 1000 people were hospitalised. At present, about six hospitals currently require more than one ward to treat Covid-19 patients.

Dr Gerrard said health authorities were monitoring the effect of the return to school and work. He also does not expect that the opening up to international travellers, announced by the Federal Government, will have a significant impact.

By the end of February, it is estimated that 1.2 million Queenslanders will have been infected with the virus whilst the number of international arrivals is low.

Authorities are now also announcing daily figures of children testing positive to the virus.

On Wednesday, 295 children aged five to 11-years-old had tested positive and 239 in the 12-17 year age bracket. This is almost double the figures for positive PCR tests announced on Tuesday, which was 295 and 239 cases.

Unlike Victoria, which has announced mandatory third doses for international travellers and suggested the same for hospitality venues, Premier Palaszczuk said Queensland would continue to require double vaccination only.

“Queensland will be keeping to the double vaccination requirement unless ATAGI changes that to include the booster,” Palaszczuk said.

“If ATAGI changes that we will absolutely follow suit … but that is not the case at the moment. At the moment, until I hear anything more, we are staying with the double vaccination.”

ATAGI is the Federal Government’s advisory group on immunisations.

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