Queensland has cancelled next Wednesday’s planned public holiday amid the state’s biggest Covid-19 outbreak since the first wave of the pandemic last year.
Nineteen new Covid cases were recorded in Queensland yesterday, two of which were in returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.
Sixteen of the new cases were locally acquired and linked to the Indooroopilly cluster in Brisbane’s west, bringing the total in the Delta cluster to 63.
An additional case has been confirmed in a pilot in Cairns who works guiding ships through the Great Barrier Reef.
Two people were fully isolating during their infectious period and one person was active in the community for five days.
The deputy premier Steven Miles said there were early signs the current lockdown in south-east Queensland was working, but did not rule out a possible extension.
“We hope that this is just five more days, but every time someone leaves their home they increase the risk that this lockdown may need to go on longer,” Miles said. “Now is not the time to buy outdoor furniture. There will be time before summer to buy sun lounges.”
Residents of 11 local government areas are due to come out of lockdown on Sunday at 4pm, but the Queensland chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said that would require high compliance and testing rates.
“I’m confident that if Queenslanders continue what they have been doing and just ramp it up a little bit, that we can get this under control by Sunday,” Young said.
“If we don’t do something really, really, really special in Queensland, we’ll be extending the lockdown.”
Young said the source of the Cairns pilot’s infection was still under investigation. Genomic sequencing indicated no link between the pilot’s case and the Brisbane outbreak. “It’s confirmed Delta. It is not the Delta strain that is circulating in Brisbane and it hasn’t clustered with any other known case of Delta in Queensland,” Young said.
“He has acquired the Delta variant most likely from one of those ships.”
Young said the pilot had been fully vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer in March and testing had shown low levels of the Covid-19 virus. Fully vaccinated people can still contract Covid, but the infection is far less likely to result in death or serious illness requiring hospitalisation.
As to how the Indooroopilly cluster originated, Young said it was “entirely possible we’ll never find the link between one of those two cases that came into Queensland on 29 June and this family of five [in Brisbane].”
“It could have been someone who got infected at the airport, or in hotel quarantine or in the hospital or in the community, and they could be one of that 20% who doesn’t get symptoms.”
Miles said the Ekka public holiday in Brisbane, also known as People’s Day, would be rescheduled to a date later in the year. The Queensland Royal Show, more commonly known as the Ekka, has already been cancelled for the second year in a row.
A record 51,479 people had Covid tests in Queensland the last 24 hours.
At least 5,844 people are subject to home quarantine directions, with 9,598 in isolation in total. “We expect those numbers are actually higher,” Miles said.
Queensland’s health minister, Yvette D’ath, called on the commonwealth government to deliver the additional 150,000 AstraZeneca doses it has offered before next week.
Two hundred and twenty-four Queensland pharmacies have been approved to administer the vaccines.
Meanwhile, Victorian authorities said they have no plans to ease restrictions early despite the state notching its first Covid-19 clean sheet since the fifth lockdown.
There were no new cases reported in Victoria on Wednesday – the state’s first day without a locally acquired infection after its Delta strain outbreak emerged more than three weeks ago.
Covid-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said it was a moment of quiet celebration and satisfaction, though warned there was a “long way to go”.
“It’s a symbolic marking of a point where there’s no more Covid cases,” he told reporters. “It means we’re on track with the strategy that we set three or four weeks ago when we first moved into this outbreak.”
But it has not inspired health officials to bring forward a planned review on restrictions, with Weimar confirming the current batch would remain in place until 10 August.
“We still have active cases in our community right here that we know about … we’ve still got just under 3,000 primary close contacts … and we still have ongoing risks in the rest of the eastern seaboard,” he said.