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Three more deaths prompt call for kids’ jabs before school resumes

Queensland has recorded three Covid-19 deaths and 7462 new cases as authorities urged parents to get their children vaccinated ahead of schools returning next week.

Jan 31, 2022, updated Jan 31, 2022
Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has unveiled a sweet new pay deal for public servants. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has unveiled a sweet new pay deal for public servants. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

The new virus cases emerged after 15,586 tests across Queensland in the 24 hours to 6.30am on Monday.

There are 744 patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospital and another 46 in intensive care.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the number of people in hospital and the number of deaths are falling in the state.

“Once again we express our condolences to the families,” she told reporters on Monday.

“It’s heartening to think though that the numbers initially are coming down so fingers crossed.”

The latest figures show that 91.98 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one dose of a vaccine, while 89.53 per cent have had two.

The premier urged parents to think about getting their children vaccinated ahead of the return of school next week.

“Look, I’m happy to advise my whole family has been vaccinated my parents, my sisters, my nieces, my nephew,” she said.

“Honestly, I know there’s, you know, millions of families out there they’ve done exactly the same thing, but if you are unvaccinated you run the risk of ending up in hospital and becoming extremely sick.”

The government’s back to school plan involves providing RAT kits to schools, which can be handed out to any students and staff who have virus symptoms, for the first four weeks of term.

Independent Schools Queensland says facilities, particularly boarding schools, expect the kits to be delivered this week in time for classes starting on February 7.

Despite tight RAT supplies nationally, Education Minister Grace Grace is promising “adequate” test supplies for every school in Queensland by Monday.

“We’ve got tens of thousands of kits at the moment that will be adequate for the first day of school,” she told ABC Radio on Monday.

“And as I said yesterday we’re looking … at procuring about 750,000 of these tests so we can adequately provide the confidence in parents and carers and staff that there will be tests available.

“But, in addition to that, if you are sick before you go to school, you will have priority access at our health clinics.”

Grace said just under one in three school age children were twice vaccinated against Covid-19, but she was hopeful more students will get their second dose this week.

She said there was no plan for Queensland to mandate the jab for students, but said the government would follow health advice on the issue.

“I think everything is on the table to be considered and national cabinet meets weekly at the moment,” the minister said.

The state will also provide RATs to staff entering remote communities, and all school camps, excursions, assemblies, and large gatherings will be suspended.

Face masks will be mandatory for all high school students and staff and strongly recommended for students in years three-to-six.

Schools must ensure adequate ventilation by opening classroom windows and doors, relocating classes outdoors or providing mechanical ventilation.

Independent Schools Queensland chief executive Christopher Mountford backs the plan, but has called for more details about quarantine and isolation rules, particularly for boarding schools.

“So if you think about a boarding facility with … lots of students living together – the way that the close contact rules would work at the moment, we might see whole boarding school facilities considered close contacts, and you might see some students therefore quarantine for a long period of time,” he told ABC Radio on Monday.

“The state government is very much aware of this issue, and they’re working through at the moment to find some more reasonable and practical solutions.”

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