News Coronavirus ‘Doubling every 48 hours’: Fears for Omicron superspreader in Qld

‘Doubling every 48 hours’: Fears for Omicron superspreader in Qld

Queensland COVID-19
Queensland has recorded 59 new COVID-19 cases, sparking warnings to stay protected. Photo: AAP
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Queensland has reported another 59 COVID-19 cases as authorities recommend wearing masks indoors and fears grow about a potential Omicron superspreader event.

Monday’s cases emerged after 13,595 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the rising numbers were expected, with 197,546 border passes issued for people from interstate virus hotspots in the last week.

She said it was time to recommend people wore face masks in all indoor settings in Queensland. However, they won’t be mandated.

“I will be wearing my mask when I go in and out of cafes or restaurants, and when you’re sitting there you can take your mask off,” she said on Monday.

“This is just an added precaution until we get to that 90 per cent fully vaccinated.”

Of Monday’s cases, 16 were locally acquired and linked to known infections within Queensland. Another 16 were acquired interstate.

Queensland Health contact tracers are investigating another 33 of the infections.

At least 13 cases are Omicron and eight are Delta with the other 18 unknown. They are in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Townsville.

Queensland chief health officer John Gerrard said there were also major concerns about a potential Omicron superspreader event in Brisbane last Monday.

More than 2670 people attended the Griffith University graduation ceremony for nurses and paramedics at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

There are already 15 cases, including some of the Omicron variant, linked to that event and Dr Gerrard is expecting more.

“Some of these cases have been identified as Omicron, so it’s likely that the whole episode will be the Omicron cluster,” Dr Gerrard said.

While there are 66 people with COVID-19 in hospital in Queensland, only one patient was moderately ill. She was unvaccinated but is recovering.

Dr Gerard defended saying it was “necessary” for the virus to spread throughout the state in recent days, saying everyone needed some level of immunity to make it endemic.

“It’s necessary because this virus ultimately needs to become endemic in the community before we can move on,” he said.

“Eventually all of us will develop some degree of immunity to this virus, and probably the virus will become less virulent.

“That’s the nature of how new viruses are introduced into the community. That’s what’s happened previously, with influenza pandemics.”

Dr Gerrard also said the spiking cases numbers were not unexpected.

“This is consistent with what we’ve been saying over the past week, where we’re seeing roughly a doubling in the number of cases every 48 hours roughly,” he said.

“We do expect the cases to increase significantly and the trend has continued as we head into January.”

SA COVID-19 testing
People in South Australia are waiting hours for COVID tests, the state opposition says.

Testing delays as SA cases spike to records

South Australia has reported a fourth consecutive day of record COVID cases as people flock to testing stations, prompting calls for more resources.

SA Health had 105 new infections on Monday, the first time its case numbers have hit triple figures.

The state has 406 active cases, with 342 being managed in home isolation and 59 in hotel quarantine.

Five people are in hospital but none is in intensive care or on a ventilator.

The spike in cases has also prompted record numbers of people to line up for coronavirus tests, with wait times at some drive-through centres in Adelaide blowing out to several hours.

Premier Steven Marshall said about 300 extra staff had been deployed by SA Pathology in recent weeks to cater for the increased demand

“We’ll continue to look at all of our resources, these are constantly under review as we progress through different stages of the disease,” he said.