The start of the school year will be delayed two weeks for most Queensland children after the state recorded another 18,000 COVID-19 cases.
The new cases emerged after 37,951 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Sunday taking the total number of active cases in the state to 80,563.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says it is far too risky to send children, who are mostly unvaccinated, back to school on January 24, when public health experts and epidemiologists believe the outbreak will likely be peaking.
“It is not desirable to have our children back starting school during the peak of this wave,” the Premier told reporters on Sunday.
“So the decisions that we have taken today will enable children to still get their full learning, but it will mean that parents can be confident that their children will not be going to school during the peak of this wave.”
No classes for most until Feb 7
Year 11 and 12 students will start remote learning on January 31, but all other students will start the academic year on February 7.
Students in Year 10 and younger will make up for the delay by doing an extra week of schooling at the end of the year in December.
The children of essential workers will also still be able to go to class with a skeleton staff of teachers to remain on school grounds.
The COVID-19 case and hospitalisation numbers, and the vaccination rate among five-11-year-olds will be reviewed over the next fortnight to see if children need to be kept home for longer than two weeks.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said there are now 422 people in hospital with 22 in ICU, five of those on ventilators.
However, he says the number of people needing hospital treatment for COVID-19 will increase as the outbreak starts peaking sometime next week.
“We expect that there will be a substantial increase, probably from about a week from now and healthcare my colleagues in hospital system need to be prepared for that,” Dr Gerrard said.
“Recalling that most of the people that we have seen so far with this infection have been young, and so they’re getting mild symptoms, but we know that the virus will be spreading into the older age groups.
“And I particularly implore those people who are have are entitled to receive the third dose of vaccine, that booster, that is they’ve had their second dose four months ago or more, please please get your booster now. It will protect you from hospitalisation and severe disease.”