Health authorities are urging everyone who hasn’t received their third COVID-19 booster vaccination to do so as soon as possible … people who are eligible should also get their fourth shot asap

July 19, 2022

The new Omicron subvariants are racing through the South Burnett, with 193 new cases of COVID-19 infection officially recorded in the region since Friday.

And these “official” statistics, released by Queensland Health on Tuesday morning, only show the number of infections actually reported to authorities.

The real figure is believed to be much, much higher, noting that Queensland Health has almost 772,000 cases which have not be allocated to a local government area since the pandemic began.

And, anecdotally, many people are not reporting their positive RAT tests.

Six new cases were also officially reported in Cherbourg since Friday.

Tragically, the death toll for the Darling Downs Health Region – which includes all the South Burnett – also passed a milestone on Tuesday, with 80 deaths now being notched up since January 2020.

This means 30 people have died with COVID-19 in the health region since July 1. has not been able to get statistics on where these people were infected or died, or their vaccination status.

Before the Queensland borders reopened on December 13 – and authorities decided it was time to “live with the virus” – the death toll for the Darling Downs Health Region stood at just two.

The State’s death toll at the same time was seven. It is now 1427 with another 18 deaths recorded during the latest reporting period.

On Tuesday morning, there were just under 1000 people currently being treated for COVID-19 in Queensland hospitals (983) including 24 patients in intensive care.

A total of 9992 new cases were reported across the State, taking the official number of active cases to 54,272.

The official number of First Nations Queenslanders who have tested positive for COVID-19 has also risen by 1112 since Saturday.

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Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard (Photo: Qld Health)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has strongly encouraged children and teachers to wear masks at school but has stopped short of enforcing any sort of mandate.

She has also urged residents to consider wearing masks indoors and where they cannot socially distance.

Speaking at the weekend, Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard warned the situation in Queensland would get worse before it gets better, with the peak of the current wave not expected until early August, three weeks away.

This coincides with the start of the 2022 Brisbane Ekka on Saturday, August 6.

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Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said on Tuesday the new BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants were highly infectious and have an ability to evade the immune protection from either previous infection or vaccine.

“Although three or four doses of vaccine remain very effective at providing protection against severe disease from BA.4 and BA.5, vaccination alone is not effective at stopping infection or transmission of the virus from person to person,” Prof Kelly said.

“All indications, including previous experience with the BA.1 Omicron variant in Australia in January this year, as well as recent experience with the BA.4 and BA.5 variants in other countries, along with our weekly forecasting reports, suggest that cases will continue to rise in Australia over the coming month.

“This wave of infections is already leading to an increase in the number of people with COVID-19. This will increase pressure on our hospitals which are already experiencing high levels of patients, and absenteeism due to illness in staff.

“Due to the number of cases, we may also see a rise in the number of people dying with COVID-19, particularly among those who are at higher risk of severe disease, most notably people over the age of 80 and those who have not received all recommended vaccine doses.

“We cannot stop this wave of infections, but we can slow the spread and protect the vulnerable. We have done this before and we can do it again … Employers should review their occupational health and safety risks and mitigations, and their business continuity plans. They should consider the feasibility of some employees working from home, wearing masks in the workplace and support employees to take leave when sick.

“I encourage everyone who is eligible for their fourth dose and who has not yet had it to make an appointment as soon as possible to receive it. I also remind any Australian who has not had a third dose of vaccine that two doses of the COVID vaccines simply do not provide adequate protection against severe disease. Having the recommended vaccinations for your age group or risk profile is the single most important thing Australians can do to prevent severe COVID requiring hospitalisation or even death.

“I also encourage everyone to follow the recent advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and wear masks when outside the home in crowded, indoor environments, including on public transport. This is important to protect yourself and others.”

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National Cabinet met virtually on Saturday to discuss the evolving situation and agreed on several new measures.

The Federal Government agreed to reinstate the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment to September 30 and backdated eligibility for payment to July 1.

Access to these payments will begin on Wednesday (July 20) with existing eligibility requirements to continue.

The costs of the payment will shared 50:50 between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories.

As well, the Federal Government will also reinstate the National Health Emergency (COVID-19) crisis payments until September 30, with eligibility also backdated to July 1.

The Federal Government has also agreed to create a new, temporary telehealth item so GPs can spend longer with their patients to assess their suitably for oral COVID-19 antivirals. This aims to ensure that people most vulnerable to COVID-19 can quickly access medical treatments and help ease the burden on hospitals.

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