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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Queensland records deadliest day of pandemic, aged care facilities hardest hit

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Queensland has recorded its highest daily COVID-19 toll of the pandemic, confirming the deaths of 24 people with the virus.

The total includes 16 aged care residents and comes as the state records 6902 new COVID-19 cases.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said virus outbreaks in aged care were an issue across Australia, and thanked federal minister Peter Dutton for defence personnel support for the sector.

“It’s great to see that support coming so I do thank Peter Dutton for that,” she said on Wednesday.

“These are families that are going through a very tough time at the moment and it is very difficult to announce these deaths each day.”

Only six of the 24 had received a booster, and all were aged in their 50s or older.

“We know that in the older age group, it’s that third dose which is particularly critical in preventing severe disease,” Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said.

The record number of deaths also comes as the state finally hits the 90 per cent double-dose vaccination mark for people aged 16 and over.

“I’m so proud that when the virus did come into our state, we did have our vaccination rates up higher than probably anywhere else in the world,” Palaszczuk said.

The state will continue to treat two jabs as fully vaccinated as Australia prepares to reopen to international tourists, unless the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation says otherwise.

D’Ath said earlier this week that she can’t see a reason for booster coverage for eligible people over 70 years being below the state’s overall coverage rate of 58.51 per cent, but she hopes older people and their loved ones will see the risks of delaying a booster and take action.

“We’ve said from day one that this is a virus that does particularly attack the elderly, and it significantly increases the risk factors … I don’t know the reason why people haven’t come out now in the older age group (for boosters), but I’m still optimistic that they will continue to do so,” D’Ath said.

“I strongly encourage family members to talk to their parents and grandparents and encourage them (to get their booster).”

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