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Queensland records 16 new Covid cases as fears grow virus has spread and lockdown will be extended

Queensland’s biggest Covid-19 outbreak since the first wave in 2020 grew by 16 cases on Thursday as the state’s southeast aims to emerge from lockdown in three days’ time. 

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the new cases were all linked to the original cluster. 

The cases include three students and a further nine household contacts.

Another is a teacher at a school and one is linked to Brisbane Boys’ Grammar. A further case is a student from the school. 

Four of the cases were in the community while infectious. 

The new cases bring the number of cases in the current outbreak to 79. 

‘We did not expect to be this far in front of the virus,’ chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said. 

‘There were only five days that they were out in the community while infectious and of those five days, all happened while we were in that lockdown so that should have minimal interactions,’ she said. 

Mr Miles said it was ‘too early’ to predict whether the lockdown could be lifted on Sunday.

‘My absolute focus is on doing what we need to do today and tomorrow and Saturday to hopefully be able to lift the lockdown on Sunday, that is the goal right now.,’ he said.   

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young was criticised for her remarks yesterday on online shopping and essential retail

People exercise on the near the Brisbane River as fears grow that south-east Queensland's lockdown will extend beyond next Sunday at 4pm

People exercise on the near the Brisbane River as fears grow that south-east Queensland’s lockdown will extend beyond next Sunday at 4pm

Police check members of the public for compliance with lockdown orders in central Brisbane

Police check members of the public for compliance with lockdown orders in central Brisbane

A further 11 cases were overseas acquired, with members of a ship anchored off Gladstone to be cared for on board unless their condition changes. 

The state conducted another 52,350 Covid tests on Wednesday, which Mr Miles said was a record for Queensland. 

Mr Miles said a delivery of Pfizer vaccines allocated to Queensland would be brought forward from September to August. 

‘They are not additional vaccines but they will allow for Queensland health to do more vaccinations in August,’ he said.   

Daily case numbers have increased since the lockdown came into effect last Saturday, but authorities are hopeful of lifting those restrictions by the end of the weekend.

Yesterday they pleaded with Queenslanders from the Gold Coast to Noosa to only go out for essential items, and even consider limiting online shopping.

‘If we don’t do something really, really special in Queensland, we’ll be extending the lockdown, so please … try your absolute hardest to stay at home,’ chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Wednesday.

Dr Young asked people to delay online and ‘click and collect’ shopping for non-essential items until the lockdown lifts in a bid to further prevent movement on the streets.

‘Do you need those people out in the community, delivering packages?’ she said.

The comments were criticised as ‘removed from reality’ by online fashion retailer Fleur Richardson.

‘What Jeanette Young is really saying is stop the economy,’ she said.

‘We are very conscious as employers about how many families we feed and so we are putting the wellbeing of our employees first.’  

There are now almost 200 COVID-19 exposure sites for close and casual contact across southeast, central and far north Queensland.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles reiterated the message to stay put unless locked down residents absolutely’ needed to do essential shopping or receive health care.

‘Five more days, do the right thing, and then next week you can buy all the sun lounges you think you need,’ he said on Wednesday.

Ironside State School in St Lucia is one of a number of Brisbane schools caught up in Queensland's worst Covid outbreak since mid-2020

Ironside State School in St Lucia is one of a number of Brisbane schools caught up in Queensland’s worst Covid outbreak since mid-2020

Authorities continued to investigate the case of a Cairns pilot who tested positive to the Delta variant on Tuesday, despite being fully vaccinated.

It was feared the virus had escaped south-east Queensland to the state’s Far North.

Dr Young said the man’s case posed a low risk but not ‘no risk’. 

Concerns are growing about the effect of the latest outbreak on children, with 44 of the 63 cases announced yesterday comprising people under 19 years of age, and more than 20 aged 0-9 years.

The current outbreak began with the case of a 17-year-old schoolgirl at Indooroopilly State High School, with subsequent cases genomically linked to this cluster. 

Seven Brisbane schools had since been caught up in the outbreak.

Children infected by the Delta variant are being treated in the the Gold Coast University Hospital, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s, Prince Charles and Sunshine Coast University hospitals.   

‘We do have a of children in hospital, but they are not particularly unwell,’ Dr Young said on Thursday. 

‘But they need to be in hospital and thank goodness we have got the Children’s Hospital which is one of the best hospitals in Australia for children

‘I’m very confident that we can manage them there or in one of those other hospitals that have now had a lot of experience in managing COVID in children.’