Queensland’s daily COVID numbers have again jumped substantially with 369 infections on Thursday, up from 186 the previous day.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said case numbers would continue to rise as the more infectious Omicron variant spread throughout the state.
“We will see an escalation of cases, like we are seeing in other states,” she said from the Gold Coast on Thursday.
Ms Palazczuk said the virus “is across Queensland”.
“It is now in the Banana Shire, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Central Queensland, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Maranoa, Mareeba, Moreton Bay, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast to Townsville and the Whitsundays,” she said.
It came as the state’s chief health officer, Dr John Gerrard, said COVID would reach endemic status.
“The spread of this virus, which has now been this particular strain, Omicron, is extremely contagious,” Dr Gerrard said.
“Not only is the spread of this virus inevitable, it is necessary. In order for us to go from the pandemic phase to an endemic phase, the virus has to be widespread.
“We all have to have immunity, you will all have to develop immunity and there’s two ways you can do that: by being vaccinated or getting infected.”
Thursday’s leap in infections came as a new mandate was enforced in the state, with mask requirements for theatres and cinemas as well as workers in hospitality venues.
Dr Gerrard said the measures were not designed to rid the state of the virus.
“With the masks and with the social measures, it’s just to try and slow this down a little bit,” he said.
“We’re not going to stop it. We’re trying to slow it down a little bit to enable people to get third doses. We don’t expect to stop it.”
Ms Palaszczuk also pleaded with Queenslanders to go beyond the mandated rules and wear masks when inside public areas.
“When you are going indoors, please mask up,” she said.
The tighter rules follow the state hitting the 90 per cent threshold for first-dose vaccinations on Wednesday, according to federal government data.
At least 85.3 per cent of eligible residents aged over 16 are now fully vaccinated with modelling suggesting Queensland will hit 90 per cent double-dosed in early-to-mid January.
Ms Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders to keep getting vaccinated, including boosters for those who were eligible. She said Queenslanders now needed to live with coronavirus.
“This virus is here. It is right throughout our community. We are living with this virus. This is the next stage of the pandemic,” she said.
“Everyone wants to get on with their lives but we are going to see a big impact on those who are unvaccinated.”
Despite the day-on-day jump in infections, Dr Gerrard said only one patient was in intensive care in Queensland.
Another 93 cases are being managed in hospitals, and 163 in home quarantine.