’Going to get worse’: Outbreak grows

While less than 40 per cent of the population have had a flu jab, just 63 per cent have had their third booster, well below the national rate of 70.7 per cent. Health authorities have warned that the state is “progressing towards the peak” of Omicron, with modelling indicating the wave is “going to get worse” until at least the end of July. Chief health officer John Gerrard said the BA. 4 and BA. 5 subvariants were now “well established in Queensland”, with hospitals feeling the strain of more than 700 Covid-19 inpatients across the public and private sector. “The number of public hospital Covid inpatients has risen by 140 per cent over the last month in Queensland,” he said. “The current wave is projected based on our most recent modelling and is set to continue to get worse until the end of July or early August.“There will be even greater pressure on our hospitals in the coming weeks.” Dr Gerrard said Queensland had surpassed the number of Covid patients it had during the peak of Omicron back in January, prompting the government to roll out a fourth Covid jab for residents aged 30 and above. A combination of Covid, influenza and staff shortages is creating mounting pressure on the state’s healthcare system. There are more than 2300 healthcare staff who have been furloughed due to Covid in the state – this number excludes those who have been sick with influenza or are off on annual leave. In a press conference last week, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said there were nearly 750 people in hospital with Covid, the highest-ever number of Covid patients. In addition, there are more than 100 cases of people in hospital with influenza. “If people can’t get in to see a GP, then they turn to our public hospital system and that’s why we are seeing so much demand on our EDs (emergency departments) and we’re seeing increased chronic illness and more complex cases,” Ms D’Ath said. “I saw that Dr Bruce Willett came out yesterday talking about the pressures on our GPS and he has over 30 years of experience as a GP. “He said he has never seen this sort of pressure on our general practitioners and pressure on our GPs means pressure on our hospital system.” The mounting pressure on the Queensland health system has led non-urgent elective surgeries to be suspended at some of the state’s most prominent hospitals, including Prince Charles and Redcliffe. Deputy Premier Steven Miles said hospitals were delaying elective surgeries so they could activate their Covid surge plans. “I’d just urge people that if they are contacted by their hospital and told that their planned care, their less urgent care, needs to be rescheduled, it’s because our doctors and nurses are working just as hard as they can to take care of more urgent cases,” he said.

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