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Over to you: State ditches public health orders to manage pandemic

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The Palaszczuk Government plans to move away from managing the pandemic through public health orders and will ditch Covid-19 vaccine mandates for private healthcare workers.

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The state recorded 16 virus deaths and 2033 new cases on Thursday, while the number of people in hospital fell to 308 with 11 in intensive care.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said hospitalisation numbers had “dropped dramatically” and the number of anti-viral medicine prescriptions have risen since the peak of the third wave in late July.

A cut to mandatory isolation from seven to five days, and face mask mandates being ditched for flights, reflect a changing national approach to Covid-19 management, she said.

D’Ath will introduce a bill to parliament on Thursday that will move the government away from relying on public health orders after October 31.

“It is clear that we are in a new stage of the pandemic,” she told parliament.

“Given that we will be living with this virus for years to come, we need to transition away from managing via Chief Health Officer public health directions unless it is absolutely necessary.”

The minister said the government will continue to stress the importance of getting vaccinated against the virus.

However, a public health order requiring staff working in private healthcare settings to be up to date with their Covid-19 vaccinations will be scrapped from Friday.

Private health employers will be able to decide whether or not to make vaccination a condition of employment as part of their workplace health and safety obligations, the minister said.

However, she added most private hospitals have already done that rather than relying on public health orders.

Up-to-date vaccinations remain mandatory for Queensland Health staff working in healthcare settings and for all staff working in public and private aged and disability care facilities.

D’Ath said the longstanding practice of publishing Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths daily will also be scrapped from next week.

Health authorities will only publish figures from Monday to Friday with no figures to be published on weekends.

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