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Six COVID cases in Qld, as it lifts flight quarantine order

QLD Omicron
Yvette D'Ath has urged Queenslanders to get booster shots as the state records 16 COVID-19 deaths. Photo: Getty
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Queensland has six more local COVID cases, including two it is treating as the Omicron variant.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the six cases emerged after 12,336 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Wednesday.

The new cases are in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Wide Bay, Goondiwindi and Townsville, and have been in the community for up to five days while infectious.

Two are being treated as the Omicron variant because both people have visited the NSW city of Newcastle in the last week.

One is man who visited The Argyle House nightclub in Newcastle, which is an exposure site. Another was in the city before flying to Brisbane and then onto Townsville on Monday.

“We are certainly treating them as if they are Omicron,” Ms D’Ath said on Wednesday.

She also said most passengers who were with the man on Virgin Airlines flight 1105 from Newcastle to Brisbane then on flight 375 from Brisbane to Townsville on Monday afternoon would be reclassified as casual contacts.

Hundreds of people aboard both flights had initially been classified as close contacts, and sent into quarantine – facing the likelihood of spending Christmas in isolation.

But Ms D’Ath said that decision was just a precaution and most people would be reclassified later on Wednesday.

“We don’t need to wait until we get the findings of whether it’s Omicron because if it is we still will apply these rules,” she said.

“That means that other than those people who will be directly advised they are close contacts because they were either part of the travelling party or sitting immediately around this individual.

“The remainder of the passengers will be deemed to be casual contacts.”

Meanwhile, some residents of the southern Queensland border town of Goondiwindi could also be ordered into 14 days’ isolation after a known case visited three venues.

The gaming lounges at the O’Shea’s Royal Hotel and the Victoria Hotel have been listed as close contact exposure sites for Monday afternoon, along with McDonald’s Goondiwindi on the Cunningham Highway for Tuesday morning.

It came as chief health officer Dr John Gerrard warned Queenslanders to expect cases to climb after the opening of the state’s borders

“It is not unexpected at all and it will continue and numbers will increase in coming days and weeks,” he said.

Queenslanders should also expect the Omicron variant to spread in the state.

“It is clear now that Omicron is very contagious and most of us now believe that the speed with which we will reach a peak is probably faster than we anticipated,” Dr Gerrard said.

It’s more in the weeks than the months, from what we’re seeing in NSW and the United Kingdom.”

Queensland has also reclassified one virus case in hotel quarantine as Omicron on Wednesday.

-with AAP