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Queensland opens vaccine booking for kids under 12 as it records 784 new Covid cases

Annastacia Palaszczuk claims ‘no one’ anticipated 400,000 people would want to holiday in Queensland when it opened the border.

Testing queues in Sydney and Melbourne are so long hundreds are turned away and results take up to 100 hours to come back after Queensland demanded visitors produce a negative PCR Covid test. 

Queensland will also start vaccinating children under 12 in just three weeks as it tries to head off an Omicron outbreak that grew by 784 on Monday.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that from Monday, children 12 and under can be booked for a Covid vaccine, with jabs administered as of January 10

From Monday, children aged five to 11 can be booked for a Covid vaccine, with jabs administered as of January 10. 

‘They can also go to the GPs and pharmacies for their vaccines,’ Ms Palaszczuk said.

She urged parents with concerns about vaccinating children to speak with ‘trusted professionals’. The jab will remain discretionary for this age group.

‘Children get vaccinated for a whole range of different diseases, we start getting vaccinated as soon as we are born,’ she said.

‘It’s important we get as many children get vaccinated before school goes back.’  

The premier also said testing capacity will be boosted in metro areas of Brisbane, Cairns, and the Gold Coast to cope with increased demand.

'It's important we get as many children get vaccinated before school goes back,' Ms Palaszczuk said

‘It’s important we get as many children get vaccinated before school goes back,’ Ms Palaszczuk said

Ms Palaszczuk said more than 400,000 people had now applied to come to Queensland since the state reopened on December 13. 

‘No one estimated 400,000 people would apply to come to Queensland,’ Ms Palaszczuk said. 

‘No one is going into the city of Melbourne CBD… there are a lot of people coming from Melbourne, coming from Sydney, into Queensland. 

‘Queenslanders want it to be a safe environment so these are the precautions we put in place on our roadmap.

‘Everybody knew when they booked a ticket to come here that they would have to adhere by having that PCR test.

‘Now that we’ve had 400,000 border passes, we need to make sure that we are protecting Queenslanders but as the world is moving towards rapid antigen tests, it’s something we are closely looking at.’

Ms Palaszczuk’s government has been slammed for insisting on a PCR test for travellers within 72 hours of arrival at the Queensland border. 

The rule has bene one reason long queues and a delay in results of the test had formed at clinics and hubs in Sydney and Melbourne.

People queue in their cars at a COVID-19 testing site at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne. Queensland's requirement of a PCR test for visitors has been blamed as one of the reasons for the queues in Sydney and Melbourne

People queue in their cars at a COVID-19 testing site at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne. Queensland’s requirement of a PCR test for visitors has been blamed as one of the reasons for the queues in Sydney and Melbourne

A queue outside the Melbourne Town Hall for Covid-19 testing as new cases begin to grow again

A queue outside the Melbourne Town Hall for Covid-19 testing as new cases begin to grow again

The premier confirmed again that there would be no change to the requirement for the lab test until at least January 1.

She said the additional requirement that visitors to the state get another PCR test on day five of their stay will likely be dropped ‘in the next 24 to 48 hours’ in favour or a rapid antigen test.

A change to a ‘screening’ rapid antigen test for entry to the state after January 1 was still being considered by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, Ms Palaszczuk said. 

She acknowledged many private pathology providers closed down over the Christmas period, causing delays in people being able to get a test at alternative venues.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said there were queues for testing around the world.

‘We are not unique but on top of that we have the people coming from interstate visiting Queensland,’ he said.

‘It was the right decision to reopen borders… it has put a strain on testing facilities, no doubt.

‘We couldn’t have predicted Omicron, no one did.’

The premier confirmed again that there would be no change to the requirement for a PCR test for visitors to Queensland until at least January 1, as she confirmed more than 400,000 people had applied to enter the state since the border reopened on December 13

The premier confirmed again that there would be no change to the requirement for a PCR test for visitors to Queensland until at least January 1, as she confirmed more than 400,000 people had applied to enter the state since the border reopened on December 13

Dr Gerrard said he supported use of PCR tests for visitors to the state to screen for  Covid.

‘The rapid test has a specific purpose, it’s a screening test and not as sensitive as the PCR but if we’re using it for this purpose, as a screen from a high incidence state,’ he said.

‘I support it and it will be an appropriate test.

Dr Gerrard and Ms Palaszczuk were asked about reports people were being let into Queensland at the border despite not having a PCR test result.

‘The police are using a degree of discretion,’ Dr Gerrard replied.

Asked what criteria the police were using to make the assessment of who to let in and who to turn around, Ms Palaszczuk replied ‘go and ask the police’.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk