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Queensland records 10,953 new cases of COVID-19, start of school year may be delayed by Omicron wave

Queensland has recorded 10,953 new cases of COVID-19, but Prime Minister Anastasia Pallaschuk says there are “absolutely more” infections that have not been confirmed by authorities.

There are 327 people in hospital, 14 of whom are in intensive care and three on ventilators.

Queensland Health conducted 36,492 tests in the reporting period, with nearly one in three tests coming back positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said strategies to reopen schools are being discussed at the national and state cabinet level but a plan will be released in the coming days.

“We are modeling in relation to the peak of the omicron wave and let me assure parents that we will not return primary school students during the first week of school if we are heading towards the peak,” she said.

“So we are looking at a one to two week delay in terms of going back to school.

“I don’t want parents to have concerns.

“I have sisters who have young children, they are worried and want to make sure their children are vaccinated before going back to school, but we are also peaking.”

The start of the school year may be delayed if Omicron has reached its peak.(AAP: Dan Peled)

She said the shortage of staff in schools was also a factor to be taken into account in the plans, before adding January and February would be “a very challenging time for Queensland”.

“I am currently focused on vaccinating our children on Monday, focusing on our critical workforce that I will have more to say about tomorrow… We will release our plan to go back to school so that everyone does not have to worry,” the premier said.

Ms Balachchuk also urged Queenslanders to consider working from home.

“Can I assure employers if you don’t need people working in the city at the moment, please work from home…this will help slow this wave,” she said.

The disaster management group will be formed next week

Ms Palaszczuk said the Queensland disaster management group will be involved next week to respond to the ongoing wave.

“We stand up like this when we’re going through tough times whether it’s hurricanes or a pandemic and it’s going to be a tough time,” she said.

The delta region was pre-planned [variant] And we would have seen a peak spread over a much longer period of time… six to nine months.

“What we’re seeing now… is all the evidence that shows us that this Omicron device will soon reach its peak.

“Our modeling shows that our peak will be towards the end of January…Now that could change…We’re doing all this modeling and this work is happening on a daily basis.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the wave would test the capabilities of the state.

She urged people in Queensland to wear a mask and appealed to senior Queenslanders to restrict their movement until they receive their boosters.

“So please stay home where you can,” she said.

Health Minister Yvette Dath said there are five “key actions” everyone can take to curb the spread of COVID; Stay home if you are sick, work from home where possible, wear masks, social distancing and get vaccinated.

“I know that over Christmas it was great to catch up with friends and family and everyone cuddling and kissing everyone… We need to get back to social distancing,” she said.

More RATs will be created on the way, and a hotline to report positive results

Ms Palaszczuk said the state had set up a hotline to collect positive rapid antigen test (RAT) data.

“There will be a hotline set up by tomorrow morning,” she said.

“We’ve been working around the clock on this and they’re already working on a program that will be web-based in the not-too-distant future,” she said.

The prime minister said more RAT kits are heading to Queensland, as the government expects 1.3 million tests to enter the state next Friday.

“There have been 221,000 rapid antigen tests [that] They were deployed to test clinics and distributed 150,000 yesterday alone.”

She said they were also back on shelves in some supermarkets but urged Queenslanders to be mindful of the matter.

“If I can get people to take one box for your family please and use that if you have symptoms because they are in short supply at the moment,” she said.

Patients are still encouraged to get tested, CHO rejects intensity limit call

Queues at testing clinics have been relaxed somewhat with a large number of PCR testing requirements being canceled in recent days.

People in cars queuing for a COVID-19 test at Reid Park in Townsville
People line up in cars for COVID-19 testing at Reid Park in Townsville earlier this week.(ABC News: Chloe Chomiki)

Ms Dath said people with symptoms could come forward and get tested, despite lines and advice from the government.

“We’ve made it clear, if you have symptoms and don’t have access to a rapid antigen test, you can come forward and get tested,” she said.

Health Director John Gerrard has advised people who have tested positive to “keep fluids down”, keep paracetamol on hand and watch for “deterioration”.

“If your fever and symptoms, especially your fever, do not improve within 48-72 hours, you should seek medical advice,” he said.

Dr. Gerrard said density limits in places will not be enforced, following moves by some other states across the country.

He said that the low number of admissions is due to the high vaccination rates in the state.

“And perhaps also because the Omicron strain continues to dominate more,” he said.

“We are now somewhere between 80 and 90 per cent of the viruses that we identify, but that vaccination rate, especially the third dose in the older age group, is probably almost certain to protect us from much higher admission rates into the intensive care unit thus far.” .

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