Queensland has recorded a further jump in cases to 1539 new cases of Covid as the state dropped its requirement of a PCR test for entry to the state from January 1 in the face of pressure from other states.
Eight people were in hospital with the virus but none of the cases are in ICU.
Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said 80 per cent of the new cases in the state were the Omicron variant.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was notably absent from Wednesday’s Covid update press conference as Police Minister Mark Ryan fronted the media alongside Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard and Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll.
Mr Ryan said that from today, those who wished to come into Queensland within the next 72 hours will therefore be able to use a rapid antigen test as a valid test to enter the state.
The move will immediately relieve pressure on testing queues in NSW and Victoria.
No test will be required after Queensland reaches 90 per cent of its 16 years and over population with two doses of a Covid vaccine. The state currently sits at 86.14 per cent of people doubled dosed.
‘The value of rapid antigen tests is in the context of widespread transmission of Covid [but] they’re not as sensitive as PCR tests. We’re in that phase now,’ Dr Gerrard said.
On social media earlier on Wednesday, Ms Palaszczuk announced Queensland will drop the requirement of a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival at the border for interstate visitors from Covid hotspots in favour of a rapid antigen test.
The decision ended days of frustration, particularly in NSW, with long testing queues at clinics that were blamed on the ‘tourist test’ needed to come to Queensland.
Travellers from interstate hotspots will be able to use a negative rapid antigen test to cross the Queensland border, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) tweeted on Wednesday
The decision ended days of frustration, particularly in NSW, with long testing queues at clinics that were blamed on the ‘tourist test’ needed to come to Queensland
Queensland Police Minister fronted the media in place of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday as the state announced it will drop the requirement for a PCR test to enter the state from January 1
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said 130 people were placed into quarantine after arriving into Queensland by plane yesterday.
She said that the rapid antigen test system in place from January 1 will be via a declaration of a negative result on the border pass, with fines for a false declaration.
Dr Gerrard said contact tracing in Queensland had begun to be scaled back since Christmas Eve.
‘We are pulling back to isolating those who are sick and their immediate household contacts, that is the main group that we are contacting,’ he said
‘The broader contact tracing is gradually being pulled back.’
He also confirmed that a positive case had been detected on Thursday Island.
NSW Health Minister yesterday claimed Ms Palaszczuk was indulging in ‘passive-aggressive stupidity’ by continuing to insist on the test.
He claimed that ‘from what I’ve heard’, Queensland Police were only randomly checking whether people have had a PCR test at the border.
NSW authorities said more than a quarter of the 600,000 PCR tests conducted in the state since Christmas Eve were on healthy travellers looking to travel interstate over the Christmas-New Year holiday period.
Queensland’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath yesterday announced that the PCR test interstate visitors were required to take on day five of their stay in the state was also being dropped, effective immediately.
Of the tens of thousands of travellers who have crossed state lines since Queensland reopened its border, only 0.6 per cent have tested positive in the day five test.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said scrapping the PCR tests will allow health resources to be ‘better used’ elsewhere – including testing those who have been exposed to a known infection.
Ms D’Ath had insisted that the PCR entry test would be maintained until the state had reached 90 per cent of those 16 or over had received two doses of a Covid vaccine.
She said yesterday ensuring supply of rapid antigen tests was the reason the PCR test would be required until January 1.
‘We’ve got to make sure there’s adequate supply so that you don’t have people lining up for a PCR test in NSW or Victoria, for example, but then they can’t get a [rapid antigen] test,’ she said.
NSW authorities said more than a quarter of the 600,000 PCR tests conducted in the state since Christmas Eve were on healthy travellers looking to travel interstate over the Christmas-New Year holiday period. Pictured: People queue in Sydney’s CBD for a PCT test
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath yesterday announced that the PCR test on day five for visitors to the state will no longer be required. Pictured: People queue at a drive-through testing facility in Boondall, Brisbane
Ms D’Ath said yesterday that ensuring supply of rapid antigen tests (pictured) was the reason the PCR test would be required until January 1
But pressure from NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and claims that people in NSW and Victorian testing queues were preventing symptomatic people from getting one of the lab tests had forced Ms Palaszczuk’s hand.
However the country still faces a crippling shortage of the rapid antigen test kits, with chemist shelves bare and hefty price tags for those which are available.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet on Tuesday warned his state wouldn’t receive an order of 20 million rapid antigen tests until the end of January.
The tests only take about 15 minutes to return a result and can be done at home, costing anywhere from $30 for a two pack or $50 for a five pack.
Australia is understood to be transporting more tests from overseas by air with the tests repackaged from bulk packs so they could be sold in chemists.
Queensland has 250,000 twin-packs of rapid antigen tests on the way in early January, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia confirmed, which will be distributed to pharmacies throughout the state.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) on Tuesday warned his state wouldn’t receive an order of 20 million rapid antigen tests until the end of January
Queensland case numbers surged past 1000 for the first time with 1158 reported on Tuesday,
New South Wales has suffered a record 11,201 new Covid-19 cases and three deaths on Wednesday, nearly double the 6,062 infections announced on Tuesday.
There are 625 Covid patients in hospital, up from the 557 on Tuesday, but just one extra person is in ICU with a total of 61 people.
Victoria also saw a large jump in cases with 3,767 new infections and five deaths on Wednesday, compared to the 2,738 announced a day earlier.