Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended her government’s decision to force interstate travellers from COVID-19 hotspots to pay for an expensive test before entering the state.
Once the state's double vaccination rate hits 80 per cent, Queensland will require interstate travellers to receive a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of arrival.
On current projections, that threshold is expected to be reached between December 6-12.
PCR tests cost about $140, which is being viewed as an impost on many would-be travellers.
While cheaper do-it-yourself rapid antigen testing is available, and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Queensland Health authorities maintain it’s less reliable and only beneficial with high case numbers .
Ms Palaszczuk says her government’s rules are in line with some other states.
“This is a measure that has been put in place and will remain in place on the advice of our chief health officer,” she says.
“We’ve announced our plan and our plan is staying.”
Thank you to every Queenslander who got vaccinated at our Super Schools Vaccination Blitz over the weekend 💪— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) November 22, 2021
Health workers delivered more than 6,070 doses at schools.
56.7% of the vaccinations administered by Queensland Health and Mater were first doses 💉#SuperSchoolsvax
Ms Palaszczuk also announced Gold Coast clinician Dr John Gerrard as the new chief health officer.
“It is a deep and concerning responsibility to take on at this time,” Dr Gerrard said.
Dr Gerrard said Queensland's success at keeping COVID-19 at bay was due to the efforts of Queenslanders and the work of previous CHO Dr Jeanette Young.
Dr Gerrard will assume the role from mid-December.
It comes as there were zero cases reported in the past 24 hours, with 6550 tests conducted and 10,968 vaccines administered.
It takes Queensland’s first dose rate to 84.55 per cent and 73.34 per cent are fully vaccinated.
WHO IS DR JOHN GERRARD
Dr John Gerrard is an internationally respected and awarded researcher and clinician with more than 30 years’ experience.
Dr Gerrard is currently director of Infectious Diseases at Gold Coast University Hospital.
He was the first in Queensland to treat a COVID patient.
The Premier welcomed Dr Gerrard’s appointment.
“As we enter this new stage of the pandemic it is vital to have someone of Dr Gerard’s high standing as our Chief Health Officer,” the Premier said.
“Queensland has shown the importance of listening to expert health advice.
“It has kept us safe and will continue to keep us safe.”
Dr Gerrard has a long track record of research into emerging infectious diseases and vaccine development.
He was recognised for ground-breaking research into the emergence of AIDS in Australia and honoured with the Humanitarian Overseas Service medal for his work in confronting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.
Dr Gerrard was the medical specialist lead in two separate international COVID responses – one aboard the Diamond Princess in Japan in February 2020 and the other in the Dutch Antilles in early 2021.
He was instrumental in designing the Gold Coast University Hospital to manage patients with highly infectious viruses like COVID.
Dr Gerrard said he is honoured to follow Queensland’s previous Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young.
“Dr Young showed the importance of implementing public health measures and being able to explain them in a way people could appreciate and understand,” Dr Gerrard said.
“That has never been more important than now as we encourage people to get vaccinated before more cases arrive.”