Queensland will bolster its coronavirus contact tracing taskforce by redeploying hundreds of public servants to assist with the roles in the state where more than 3500 people remain in quarantine.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said there were two new virus cases but after adjustments, the state’s tally remained steady at 1026, with the two new cases acquired overseas.
There were just 18 in-patients and six in intensive care who were on ventilators.
Mr Miles said more than a third of Queensland’s 1026 cases tested positive while they were in quarantine and underlined the effectiveness of the state’s tough quarantine measures.
“That’s 375 people that could have been out there spreading the virus,” he said.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath was tasked with expanding Queensland Health’s contact tracing team which determines how and where people may have contracted the virus and who they came into contact with.
She said the government was training 500 extra public servants who would not only relieve a team that has worked solidly for 86 days, but also enhance their overall numbers should cases start rising rapidly.
Ms D’Ath said 57,000 people had been in isolation or in quarantine since the outbreak started in Queensland.
“There are over 3500 today, either under an isolation order … and people who are under quarantine orders.”
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young also announced testing would be expanded to include anyone with any respiratory symptoms.
“We know that if you come forward and if you have COVID-19, the quicker you are to isolate yourself from the rest of the world, the better,” she said.
Police are also ramping up checks to ensure people ordered into quarantine are not wandering around the community.
The first police compliance blitz was held on Monday and resulted in police doorknocking 158 homes and finding residents at 147 homes complying with quarantine orders.
“There were only eight who were non-compliant. Six of those left the address in which they’d been quarantined to return to NSW. Two had left to seek medical treatment,” Ms D’Ath said.
Three other cases remain under investigation, including an incident where a person was found not to be at a designated property,
“As much as these statistics are fantastic, we want to make sure we have 100 per cent compliance with these directions,” Ms D’Ath said
Earlier, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said a union’s influence over the state government was preventing students returning to school.
He said the medical advice was clear that it was safe to return to classrooms although the Queensland Teachers’ Union has opposed boosting student attendances because of health concerns for their members.
“In my home state of Queensland, the teachers’ union has their hands firmly around the throat of the government,” Mr Dutton told the Nine Network’s Today show on Friday.
The powerful QTU, according to The Courier-Mail, is threatening to have schools shut down if “too many” kids turn up to class, or if schools are found to run short of cleaning products.
“If health and safety is compromised – whether by lack of hygiene products or too many students attending – the union will seek to have the operation of schools suspended until the safety issue is resolved,” QTU general secretary Graham Moloney said in an update to principals.
Australian Associated Press