Queensland COVID-19 wave fuelled by BA.2 sub-variant expected to peak in April, health officials say
Queensland is dealing with a second Omicron wave of COVID-19 that is expected to peak in April, health officials say.
- The state’s second wave is expected to peak in April
- Authorities say while no restrictions are being implemented now, they will review whether they are needed in April
- One in four Queenslanders are returning a positive PCR test result
The state has recorded three COVID-19 related deaths in the latest reporting period, while 9,730 new cases have been reported.
There are 265 in hospitalised with the virus, including 14 in intensive care.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the new wave has put pressure on the healthcare system with 2,400 workers currently not at work because they have had to quarantine or have tested positive.
“We are seeing a doubling of the number of health workers even though we’re not seeing an increase in beds at the moment from COVID patients or in ICU, which is very positive,” Ms D’Ath said.
“But we are still seeing pressures in our health system right now.
“We’re not sure when this wave is going to peak but we expect some time in April.
“We can’t give a definitive date as yet … we will keep working with our interstate colleagues as to when they expect to see their peaks.”
No changes to COVID mandates
Despite the rising case numbers there will be no changes made to COVID restrictions or mandates, nor the length of quarantine for people who are deemed close contacts or who test positive.
“We’re being really careful to do this in a gradual way, in a safe way based on advice,” Ms D’Ath said.
“We will review this [COVID restrictions] in April as we come off this wave.”
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said authorities always knew there would be further waves in the future months and years as the virus “waxes and wanes”.
“We’re not going to suddenly increase the public health measures because we’re seeing an increase in a wave … this is going to continue to happen over time.”
The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is behind the new wave in south-east Queensland, increasing cases by 54 per cent, Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said.
He said case numbers were particularly climbing in school-aged children, with one-in-50 testing positive over the past week.
Vaccination clinics will be open over the school holidays and clinics could be open on school grounds after the Easter holidays.
Dr Gerrard said authorities were not going to “overreact every time there is another wave of the virus”.
At this stage, there were no plans to change any public health restrictions or mandates across the state or in schools.
“If there are significant outbreaks in schools we encourage the headmasters and headmistresses to implement a mask mandate if it’s required in that particular environment, but we’re not mandating that specifically for schools,” he said.
“It all depends on the individual schools. So the individual staff and the schools can make that decision themselves.”
Close contacts testing positive
Dr Gerrard said 47 per cent of cases are in people who lived in the same household as a primary case.
He said it was reassuring that there has not been an increase in hospitalisations during this wave and attributes it to vaccinations.
“The vaccines are very effective in preventing severe disease,” he said.
“When I say severe disease, I mean infection that results in hospitalisation, intensive care, admission and death.”
There has been an increase in people going to get PCR tests, with 16,802 people turning up to get tested.
Of those, one in four have returned positive results.