The deaths were all people aged between their 70s and 90s, all with significant underlying conditions, taking the state’s death toll to 17. “When you think about during the whole two years … six in one day is a big shock,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. “It‘s quite upsetting.”The latest figures include 2800 positive rapid antigen tests – down from 3985 RATs on Wednesday.It is still at least two weeks until the virus caseload hits its peak in late January early February, as predicted by health authorities. Thursday’s update comes as various industries buckle under the pressure of staff shortages, while hesitant consumers are again avoiding heading to the shops. Peak business bodies claim more than half of Queensland’s business community has been affected by staff shortages in some form or another in recent weeks as isolation measures and testing requirements keep employees locked down at home. Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland general manager of policy and advocacy Amanda Rohan told The Courier Mail that businesses were at a “crunch point”, while a scarcity of rapid antigen tests was exacerbating the situation. “CCIQ has been saying for months and long before borders reopened businesses needed clarity and certainty around access to rapid antigen testing as a first line of defence for their staff and to help them plan for workforce shortages, return to work and ongoing recovery,” Ms Rohan said. Queensland last week confirmed it had ordered 18 million RAT tests – 12 million of which will be able to be used at home – as it signalled a shift away from the more onerous PCR testing to ease pressure on the health system.However, supply of the at-home tests has been limited to a relative trickle, with retailers also struggling to keep up with demand as RATs become increasingly crucial to isolation and testing rules. Queensland now includes positive RATs in its daily figures, with the tests encouraged for people with symptoms, as well as people who have been identified as a close contact, and people who require a negative result to exit isolation. Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath on Wednesday flagged that the state will be pushing for more RAT tests from the federal government amid fears the inbound delivery of one million RATs will only add to pressure on public clinics. Half of these federally supplied tests – which are expected to arrive in the next week – will be point-of-care kits requiring the supervision of health staff.
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