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Eye of the storm: Premier's Tokyo trip could mean flying into a state of emergency

Politics

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk could fly to Tokyo to present Brisbane’s 2032 Olympic bid while the city is in a state of emergency.

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The Japan Times and numerous media outlets have reported that Tokyo will be placed in a state of emergency until August 22 after the city recorded 920 COVID-19 virus cases on Wednesday.

Palaszczuk has had the full course of the Pfizer vaccine and will be travelling later this month with federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck and Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner.

It’s understood that the trip is not set in stone and premier’s office will take the chief health officer’s advice on whether it’s safe for her to travel to Japan or not.

The trip has been panned by Australians stranded overseas and political opponents after Palaszczuk successfully lobbied for quarantine caps to be halved at national cabinet last week.

An online petition calling for the premier to be denied a travel exemption to visit Tokyo had garnered more than 76,000 signatures on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Palaszczuk has praised the efforts of 10 Sunshine Coast University Hospital staff who were ordered into 14-day isolation after saving the life of a COVID-19 patient.

The patient was being prepared for an MRI scan when they had an allergic reaction to the dye, causing them to go into anaphylactic shock.

Chief health officer Jeanette Young said the staff were wearing full PPE in the race to stabilise the patient but afterwards reported that their gear may have been compromised, potentially exposing them to the virus.

Young said all of the staff involved had ben vaccinated but would still go into isolation as a precaution.

Palaszczuk said their actions were “absolutely astonishing” in the circumstances.

“They are heroes,” she told AAP in a statement.

“Right throughout this pandemic we’ve seen that tough times bring out the best in many of us.

“It makes me proud to be a Queenslander.”

Queensland Health said no other staff or patients were exposed to the virus and the areas of the hospital have been deep cleaned.

Young said given the critical nature of the situation, the staff had followed the right process.

“These staff put themselves in harm’s way to help a patient in need. They put the patient’s welfare before their own,” she said in a statement.

“From the information I have, staff were required to act quickly and may not have been able to maintain full infection control while attending to the emergency.”

Queensland recorded two more locally acquired cases of COVID-19 overnight, both of whom tested positive in isolation. One other case was detected in hotel quarantine. There are now 49 active cases in the state.

However, NSW continue to battle rising infections, with 38 new cases recorded since Wednesday, 11 of whom were carry the virus in the community.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the jump in cases was caused by people defying lockdown orders and visiting friends and family. She and NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant pleaded with all Sydney residents to be extremely cautious when leaving their home.

“I want to say in the most, strongest possible terms, please avoid contact with households with other households, please avoid visiting family and friends,” she said.

Lockdown orders governing five million people in Sydney and surrounding regions have been extended for a third week – until at least July 16 – after being initially due to end on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Liberal National Party has called for a report, into how a clerical worker at Prince Charles Hospital became infected two weeks ago, to be released before the premier flies to Japan.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said the 19-year-old’s infection was the third COVID-19 breach resulting in a lockdown in the state this year.

“The state government must do more to strengthen the system and protocols in order to prevent another outbreak,” Ms Bates said.

“There is no room for mistakes when it comes to the lives and livelihoods of Queenslanders.”

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