Quarantine centre still needed even if people isolate at home: Premier
Queensland could move to home quarantine for fully vaccinated people, but it will keep building a mass quarantine facility near Toowoomba.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the Wellcamp Airport quarantine facility near Toowoomba will go ahead.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk admitted that mandatory hotel quarantine was “tough” after the state’s Human Right Commissioner Scott McDougall raised concerns about a “blanket approach” to people seeking exemptions to quarantine at home.
She suggested that Queensland could allow more people to quarantine at home once vaccination coverage is high enough in the state.
“I respect what the Human Rights Commissioner is saying, I did hotel quarantine myself, it’s tough, you know it is actually 14 days, not being able to leave your room is pretty tough, I’ve done it myself,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
“And look, as we get more and more people vaccinated, you know, we will be looking at further options, and national cabinet is considering other options, there is a (home quarantine) trial at the moment on in South Australia.
“But let me say it very clearly, and I say it every day: the reason we have an exemptions unit in Queensland is because there is a massive outbreak on our doorstep in NSW.
“There are tens of thousands of people who have the virus in NSW, it is still spreading, people are ending up in the hospitals and the hospitals are going to be overwhelmed.”
Palaszczuk said the quarantine facility being built at Wellcamp, near Toowoomba, would still be required for international travellers, particularly students from overseas.
However, she rejected the human rights commissioner’s comments about the exemptions unit granting people permission to quarantine at home or outside the hotel quarantine program.
McDougall told News Corp Australia that exemptions must not be seen to be granted on the basis of a person’s “celebrity status or otherwise because of the media attention”.
“I reject that, I reject that, I reject that, I reject that, these people are doing their very best, they are looking at all the compassionate grounds,” the premier said.
“It is a very stressful time for Queenslanders that are separated from family and friends, and the best way that we can see family and friends again is to get vaccinated.”
Queensland recorded one new case of COVID-19 in home quarantine and linked to the Sunnybank cluster among 11,913 tests on Wednesday.
Queensland Health administered another 23,913 vaccine doses in the 24 hours to 6.30am with the premier suggesting another mass vaccination weekend offering people the Pfizer vaccine brand could be held soon.
The premier also took aim at the federal government after reports that Health Minister Greg Hunt is assessing research on vaccinating children under the age of 12.
Palaszczuk said when she had raised the issue of children under the national plan a few weeks ago she had been attacked by the media and Hunt.
“So, I would like an apology from Greg Hunt, I think it is very disappointing that all I’m trying to do is protect this state, to protect our children, and to be attacked relentlessly,” she said.
“I think now Queenslanders should feel vindicated that the federal government has looked to the international research, and is now doing something about it.”
NSW has reported 1035 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and five deaths as double-dose vaccination coverage approaches 55 per cent.
Victoria has recorded 628 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths.