Queensland hospital numbers trend lower as Ekka ends COVID slumber

“It’s going to be really important that we try to maintain some of those behaviors so that we’re better prepared for the next wave.”

Former Queensland Chief Health Officer and Queensland University of Technology public health expert Gerard FitzGerald agreed, adding that ensuring booster doses were kept up to date among vulnerable cohorts was the measure most important in the future.

“We can’t eliminate it now. And so, all we can do is protect the vulnerable.

Despite the severity of the current wave, authorities in Queensland – like others – have been reluctant to introduce new public health measures such as broader mask mandates in response to the wave.

Instead, they chose to recommend people take personal responsibility for their health, including wearing masks in busy and confined indoor spaces.

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The state government has also decided to distribute free masks to people taking part in the Ekka, which started this weekend for the first time in three years and will run until August 14.

Speaking from the site on Sunday, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said he was “quite impressed” by the number of people he had seen wearing masks in the indoor spaces of the event.

“If you’re not feeling well, the best thing to do is stay away,” he said.

State health officials have reported 86 deaths among people with the virus in the past seven days alone. A total of 1,646 have been recorded this year, after only seven previously.

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The Albanian federal government has now quietly ended its Operation COVID Shield vaccination program, although millions of Australians are overdue for their boosters and a fifth of elderly residents are still waiting for their fourth dose amid the current national peak also passes.

Queensland’s vaccination rates have largely stalled, with the worst booster rates in the country at just 59.21%, down from 56% in April. Second dose rates have yet to exceed 86%, having hit 85% in mid-May.

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