Premier wants COVID loophole slammed shut

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she doesn't believe now is the time to grant special exemptions for people returning from overseas, citing the growing number of cases.

It follows news a consulate staffer was granted a national exemption and was allowed to board domestic flight JQ790 to the Sunshine Coast after arriving in Sydney on an international flight from Afghanistan.

The man in his 20s then drove directly from Maroochydore to his home in Toowoomba to quarantine where he has since tested positive. His wife is also in self quarantine.

"I'm going to raise this at National Cabinet," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"I think now is the time for overseas travellers to definitely go into mandatory hotel quarantine.

"There have been some exemptions.

"I don't think the time is right now for those exemptions however that is going to be a matter for the chief health officers around the country to look at."

A COVID-positive consulate staffer flew to the Sunshine Coast after arriving in Sydney on an international flight.
A COVID-positive consulate staffer flew to the Sunshine Coast after arriving in Sydney on an international flight.

There are currently no contact tracing alerts aside from the flight.

" … so please be assured that the confirmed case didn't go into the community at all," a Queensland Health spokesman said.

It comes as Queenslanders have turned out for a record-breaking number of COVID-19 tests as the Premier warns of a $4.8bn cost to the economy if people don't do the right thing in the "crucial" week ahead.

Ms Palaszczuk thanked Queenslanders and health officials for their extraordinary response after the ill-fated trip to Melbourne by three women who sparked the state's second wave scare, which has led to five cases so far and plunged more southeast aged-care homes into lockdown.

In just five days, more than 50,000 people have been tested as nurses and doctors deployed to special pop-up clinics, pathologists worked around the clock to get results, and more than 1500 people have been individually interviewed by contact tracers.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says another outbreak of coronavirus could cost the Queensland economy $4.8bn. Picture: John Gass
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says another outbreak of coronavirus could cost the Queensland economy $4.8bn. Picture: John Gass

Meanwhile, the 105 residents of the Pinjarra Hills Bolton Clarke aged-care facility - where a COVID-positive woman works - all tested negative. Staff testing is ongoing.

Ms Palaszczuk said she was very happy with the "extraordinary" response by the public, health workers and police.

But she said the next seven days were "very, very crucial" and "it's up to every single one of us now to do the right thing".

Ms Palaszczuk said there was a $4.8bn economic risk to Queensland if the measures in place did not work.

"From memory, Treasury said if we were to end up in a second wave like Victoria it would be around $4bn," she said. "That is why every single one of us has a big responsibility … Think of how this started, with a couple of people going down to Victoria doing the wrong thing, and look where it's put Queensland.

"So we're on top of it, we're working very hard but the next week is very, very critical."

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said despite so many negative tests, authorities were still on high alert.

"We've got to keep alert for at least the next week before we can say we're out of that risky period," she said.

Dr Young said only people with symptoms needed to come forward, but that included very mild symptoms.

She said people who had asthma, or hay fever, should consider getting tested in case it was COVID.



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