Minister ‘confident’ system will cope, despite suspension of 3000 unvaccinated staff
More than 3000 Queensland Health employees who are not fully vaccinated have been suspended, on full pay, from Monday, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has confirmed.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'ath. (AAP Image/Darren England)
The vaccine mandate for state health workers formally came into force on Monday with the minister revealing that 7000 of more than 110,000 Queensland Health staff haven’t confirmed their vaccination status.
About 4000 Queensland Health workers were on long-service or maternity leave, she said, so there were about 3000 who would be sent a show-cause notice on Monday.
However, D’Ath was confident the health system could cope without 0.02 per cent of the workforce.
“We expected this,” she said.
“I have every confidence that these numbers will continue to grow each day, just as we saw when we mandated vaccinations with our aged care workers.”
More than 92 per cent of state health workers have had at least one vaccine dose, but D’Ath said the Australian Immunisation Register showed that coverage was closer to 95 per cent.
She said all aged care workers in state facilities have had one dose and 96.3 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Queensland recorded no local new cases of COVID-19 and one new case on hotel quarantine on Monday.
Meanwhile, Queensland could change its COVID-19 quarantine requirements for international travellers as soon as federal guidelines change, the health minister says.
She was speaking before Prime Minister Scot Morrison announced Singaporean travellers would be allowed into Australia without having to quarantine from November 21.
However, the move would only apply to states and territories ready to accept international travellers without quarantine.
Queensland’s roadmap to reopening will allow fully vaccinated domestic travellers who test negative to quarantine at home from November 19, by which time 70 per cent of eligible Queenslanders will be fully vaccinated.
Quarantine requirements will be scrapped entirely for vaccinated domestic travellers who test negative whenever the state hits 80 per cent, or on December 17 at the latest.
However, international travellers will need to home quarantine until 90 per cent of Queenslanders are fully vaccinated.
Victoria and NSW have scrapped quarantine for international arrivals, but Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath insists their situations are different.
“It’s in effect, a bit simpler when you’ve got 1500 plus cases every day to say, ‘Well, it’s OK for people from overseas to come in with the virus because we’ve already got this virus spreading throughout our community’,” she told reporters on Monday.
When asked why the state was scrapping quarantine for domestic travellers and not international arrivals when the 80 per cent target was reached, D’Ath said there were a number of reasons.
New virus variants could emerge overseas, she said, and vaccines made overseas could have lower efficacy than locally made vaccines.
However, the minister stressed the roadmap wasn’t set in stone and quarantine requirements could change if Australian Health Protection Principal Committee guidelines change.
“Of course we will continue to take the advice,” D’Ath said.
“If things change, if the advice we’re getting from the health professionals are that you can quarantine for shorter periods of time, or you don’t need to put as many people into quarantine if they’re close contacts, then we’ll take that advice but at this stage it is still testing tracing isolating and quarantining.”