Queensland has recorded its highest daily COVID-19 fatality count since the start of the pandemic, with the deaths of 24 people with the virus.
Wednesday’s total included 16 aged-care residents and came as the state confirmed another 6902 COVID-19 cases.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said virus outbreaks in aged care was an issue across Australia, and thanked federal minister Peter Dutton for defence personnel support in the sector.
“It’s great to see that support coming so I do thank Peter Dutton for that,” she said.
“These are families that are going through a very tough time at the moment and it is very difficult to announce these deaths each day.”
Only six of the 24 to die in the previous 24 hours had received a booster, and all were aged in their 50s or over.
“We know that in the older age group, it’s that third dose which is particularly critical in preventing severe disease,” chief health officer John Gerrard said.
The record number of deaths came as Queensland finally hit the 90 per cent double-dose vaccination mark for people aged 16 and over.
“I’m so proud that when the virus did come into our state, we did have our vaccination rates up higher than probably anywhere else in the world,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
The state will continue to treat two jabs as fully vaccinated as Australia prepares to reopen to international tourists, unless the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation says otherwise.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday flagged international visitors coming to his state could have to fall into line with rules applying to local residents.
These rules require people going to hospitality venues and major events to have had their two doses, plus a booster shot.
“If ATAGI changes that, I will absolutely follow suit with Victoria, but that is not the case at the moment,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Meanwhile, public hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients continue to fall in Queensland, dropping from 663 to 628 on Wednesday. That includes 42 in intensive care.
There are another 58 positive cases in Queensland’s private hospitals.
Elective surgeries are expected to be restricted in the state until at least March. Dr Gerrard said the decision was being reviewed weekly.
“I will be more comfortable once we have just single wards in hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 patients, and there’s at least half a dozen major hospitals … that have more than one,” he said.