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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urges the federal government to “plan for the future” when it comes to quarantine facilities for overseas arrivals as flights from India are reduced amid a soaring number of COVID-19 cases.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged the federal government to “plan for the future” when it comes to quarantine facilities for overseas arrivals as flights from India are reduced amid a soaring number of COVID-19 cases.
Key points:

  • The Premier has warned the Commonwealth to expect more lockdowns if regional quarantine camps aren’t used
  • Travellers in Brisbane hotel quarantine were released as Perth restrictions eased
  • All Queensland healthcare staff working with COVID patients will be fully vaccinated by May 10

Speaking to ABC’s News Breakfast program before the federal government announced a pause until May 15, the Premier said she had sent a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking for the suspension of flights coming in from India.
The populous nation recorded more than 350,000 cases in a single day on Monday breaking its record for the fifth day in a row  as armed forces moved in and oxygen supplies ran out.
“It’s a high-risk proposition, other countries have done the suspension,” the Premier said.
“This is a mutant strain, unfortunately we are seeing over 300,000 cases a day.
“This is unprecedented  we haven’t seen this anywhere in the world before.”
Ms Palaszczuk said some direct flights from India were due to arrive in the next couple of weeks.
“Our health authorities are on high alert, we’re very worried about the number of people who could be infectious on those flights, so hopefully the Commonwealth will make some further decisions today,” she said.
‘Our hotels are not hospitals’
The Premier has continued to push for regional quarantine, arguing hotels are not suitable quarantine environments with the virus transmitted through corridors.
It comes after the Wagner family submitted a detailed proposal to the state government for a 1,000-room facility near Wellcamp airport near Toowoomba to house overseas arrivals in hotel quarantine.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Toowoomba Wellcamp regional quarantine hub proposal is still on the table.(ABC News: Cassie Hough
)
“We will continue to see more lockdowns in our capital cities unless we give due consideration to regional quarantine facilities,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“This is absolutely critical, we are by no means out of the woods yet.
“Our borders have been one of our greatest strengths but regional quarantine facilities like the one we’re proposing in Toowoomba would greatly assist not having to [have] three-day lockdowns happen in other states.
Queensland COVID-19 snapshot:

  • Confirmed cases so far: 1,541
  • Deaths: 7
  • Tests conducted: 2,440,105
  • Active cases: 15

Latest information from Queensland Health.
“Our hotels are not hospitals that can treat infectious issues like COVID.
“In the future, we are going to have to think, ‘are our hotels the best source of quarantine?’
“This virus is being transmitted in corridors with the opening and closing of doors it is highly contagious, it is highly infectious.
“We are now seeing more highly infectious strains coming out around the world and we just don’t know in the future how they will be contained in hotels.
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“Regional centres like Howard Springs [in Darwin] have been working well.”
The Premier said the Toowoomba Wellcamp regional quarantine hub proposal was still on the table for the federal government to consider.
“Why are we not looking at more options? We have to keep our country safe,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“I can’t see that crystal ball into the future, we have to plan for the future and the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon.”
Travellers to be released
At midday, travellers who were on a delayed flight from Perth were released from hotel quarantine in Brisbane as the state eased restrictions on Western Australians visiting Queensland.
Andrew Gay is one of the travellers who was placed in quarantine in a Brisbane hotel after arriving on the flight from Perth on Friday night.
Travellers from Perth are set to be released from the Pullman Hotel near the Brisbane airport where passengers had to quarantine after a delayed flight from WA.(ABC News: Steve Cavanagh
)
At mid-morning on Tuesday, Mr Gay, who happens to be a disinfection and sterilisation expert, said Queensland Health was yet to tell the passengers they were being released early.
“We haven’t actually been informed of anything. We’re just sitting here waiting,” he said.
“I watched this morning’s news with the Premier of Queensland giving this good news and we have not been informed.
“One only suspects that it’s just to keep her looking better politically but the people who are actually being affected no idea, no communication.”
Healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said all staff working with COVID-19 patients will have to be fully vaccinated by May 10, and will undergo health checks at the beginning of every shift.
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“We want to make sure they’ve got the confidence that they are as safe as possible working with these COVID patients,” she said.
“We also want to make sure we’re doing everything possible to reduce the risk of transmission.”
She said the move was a result of a statewide audit into personal protective equipment fit-testing for nurses treating COVID-19 patients.
“The majority of hospitals are all doing the right thing and have been doing this, but we know we can do better and that is what we are doing,” she said.
It comes as Queensland recorded two new overseas-acquired cases in hotel quarantine, bringing the state’s total number of active cases to 15.
The state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the two new cases involved patients who had travelled from Papua New Guinea.
She said there were also seven historical cases relating to a vessel anchored off the Sunshine Coast, which had already recorded one infection.
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