Just five new infections, but “many more months” of restrictions ahead: Premier

Queensland has recorded its lowest daily total for COVID-19 infections since early March, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says restrictions will be in place for many more months, adding that now is not the time to relax.

Apr 15, 2020, updated Apr 15, 2020
Queensland has returned its first positive test in 10 days. (Photo: ABC News: Stefan Lowe)

Queensland has returned its first positive test in 10 days. (Photo: ABC News: Stefan Lowe)

Health Minister Steven Miles said there were five new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the state’s total to 999. Almost half of those people have recovered.

“Today is a fantastic announcement,” he said.

“But just because our social-distancing efforts have been so effective … doesn’t mean we take our foot off the accelerator in terms of our preparations.

“A concerning number of the positive tests coming through are from those people who have travelled interstate and so we would re-emphasise the importance of those domestic border travel restrictions.”

So where are we at?

Paul Glasziou, the director of Bond University’s Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, said Queensland was faring well.

“Despite somewhat less-stringent lockdowns compared to New South Wales and Victoria, we have the same sort of rise and fall,” he said.

The latest Queensland Health data shows the only health districts which have not recorded COVID-19 cases are Central West, North West, South West, and Torres and Cape.

Across Australia, women aged in their 20s continue to account for the highest number of total confirmed infections.

Brisbane musician Deena Lynch, 28, who performs as Jaguar Jonze, became one of them after testing positive in Sydney in March upon returning from the US.

She has now spent 25 days as a “virtual hospital patient” at a house in New South Wales where she is isolating.

“I’d say this virus for me has been a clinger,” she said.

“This last, third week has been about trying to shake off the fatigue and the chest pain and the cough.

“My partner — who I am quarantining with — he got a negative result, so it’s a bit of a mystery on how this disease works and how the virus travels.”

Yesterday marked her first day without symptoms but she said she was unable to leave home until she had three symptom-free days.

“I have a feeling I’ll get discharged the same day as my EP release — I really hope so,” she said.

Deena Lynch, who performs as Jaguar Jonze, sits on ground with hands around her face.

Deena Lynch has now spent 25 days as a “virtual hospital patient” at home in NSW. (Supplied)

Community transmissions?

Top health officials maintain Queensland has had a low rate of community transmission.

In fact, since authorities expanded the testing regime for COVID-19 in Cairns, Brisbane and the Gold Coast last week, only five cases of community transmission have been recorded.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said yesterday that brought the total number of cases acquired from an unknown source to 38.

“At the moment in Queensland there’s very limited community transmission — we’re seeing a lot more in Sydney — which is why I ask people who return from [there] go into quarantine for 14 days,” she said.

Drive-through testing clinic for COVID-19 in Brisbane.

A Queensland Health drive-through testing clinic in Brisbane. (ABC News: Stefan Lowe)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was encouraged by the rate of daily infections slowing.

“Of course we are still seeing returned travellers coming back into Queensland that are testing positive … and hopefully we are starting to see that flattening of the curve,” she said.

“But we all must remember that we can’t rest and relax about this — we’ve got to make sure we are continuing to flatten that curve.

“We want to smash that curve, so we do require these restrictions for many more months.”

Queensland police said as of 12:00am Tuesday, officers had handed out 827 infringement notices for breaching public health directions.

More than 1500 vehicles have also been turned around at state borders since March 27.

A line of vehicles waiting to be inspected by a group of police officers on a road.

Professor Glasziou said the question remained of what the authorities’ endgame strategy was — containment or eradication?

“It’s very hard to predict,” he said.

“If you’re aiming at eradication, that’s a process that may take months and is very difficult to achieve — I have no idea what the Government’s thinking is.”

He said while the race was on to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, restrictions — especially controls on international travel and bans on large group gatherings — were “absolute necessities” in the meantime.

– ABC / Kate McKenna

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