A record 21 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in Queensland amid state government calls for the Commonwealth to help aged care residents “lost in the system”.
Only four of the 21 were unvaccinated, with all but one of the fatalities, who had received a booster, double vaxxinated.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard on the federal government to “sort out” boosters at the state’s private aged care facilities after Queensland recorded its largest number of deaths in a 24-hour period. Seven of the 21 deaths were in aged care.
“We are trying to get this sorted out but ultimately it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth,” Doctor Gerrard said.
Overall, 134 Queensland aged care residents have died of COVID-19, more than half of the state’s total of 261 deaths since December 13.
Two of the deceased were in their 60s, four in their 70s, 11 in their 80s and four in their 90s.
“It distresses me greatly every day to be reporting on older Queenslanders who are dying without having received the booster,” Dr Gerrard said on Saturday.
He was concerned by the state of Queensland’s private aged care facilities, which fall under the federal government’s care, saying more needed to be done to lift booster numbers.
“These are not people who don’t want to be vaccinated, somehow …they have got lost in the system – that’s greatly concerning to me,” Dr Gerrard said.
“I am discussing this with my Commonwealth colleagues on how … we can make sure that everyone in aged care facilities gets access to the booster.”
Dr Gerrard said the state government had already had “some involvement” with Jeta Gardens private facility south of Brisbane, that has reportedly recorded 17 COVID deaths.
Federal Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck has reportedly organised a Saturday meeting with officials including Queensland Health at the nursing home to determine whether it should be evacuated.
“I don’t believe they have been evacuated but it is a private Commonwealth facility … I can’t share any more information,” Dr Gerrard said of Jeta Gardens.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles claimed Jeta Gardens’ plight was typical of private aged care facilities under the federal government’s watch.
“I am really concerned for the welfare of those residents … (but) I don’t think it is a solitary example tragically – nationwide there are more than 1000 facilities dealing with outbreaks,” he said.
“About half of our deaths have been in aged care facilities and most of those are residents who have not been boosted – there is no excuse for that.
“The Commonwealth made commitments about vaccinating people … in aged care and clearly they have failed to do that.”
Dr Gerrard said hundreds of COVID-19 patients were being admitted to hospital every day but claimed Omicron had already peaked in Queensland.
There are 727 patients being treated for COVID-19 in public hospitals – compared to 732 on Friday – with 46 in intensive care.
There are 63 patients in private hospitals – three fewer than on Friday – with two in intensive care units.
Queensland recorded 8508 new cases from 23,968 tests in 24 hours.
Latest figures show 92.14 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one jab and 89.85 per cent have had two.