Queensland records one of its highest numbers of COVID deaths in a single reporting period

Queensland has recorded one of its highest death tolls of the pandemic, with 27 deaths related to COVID-19 in the latest reporting period.

Key points:

  • About 50% of deaths from COVID occur in nursing homes
  • The number of deaths during the reporting period may include deaths recorded outside of a single day
  • The acting CHO said building the Wellcamp quarantine facility was the “right decision” at the time

Acting Health Director Peter Aitken said today’s death toll included 23-month-old Ruby Edwards, who died of COVID-19 at Queensland Children’s Hospital on Sunday.

“But most of them [the deaths]the rest, it’s people over 50,” Dr Aitken said.

“The vast majority are people in their 80s and 90s in 17 of the 27, and a significant number of those people had not been vaccinated or had only been vaccinated and certainly not had full access to boosters.

“About 50 percent of our deaths continue to occur in our aged care facilities,” he said.

Dr Aitken said the number of deaths during this reporting period was based on figures from the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, which may include deaths recorded outside of a single day.

Hospitalizations fell below 1,000 for the first time in about a week, with 955 patients with COVID being treated at public and private hospitals in the state, down from 1,023 yesterday.

However, the number of patients in the ICU has increased to 32 from 26 yesterday.

Queensland reported 7,364 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases statewide to 61,968.

Of Ruby Edwards’ death, Dr Aiken said: “It’s a tragic case, it’s a very rare complication and I don’t want to talk about the individual circumstances of this child.”

“It’s a tragic situation for this family.

“This was an incredibly rare complication of COVID … COVID is not going to suddenly come out and kill all our children, that’s not going to happen.

“The best way to protect your kids when they can’t get vaccinated is to take care and make sure you don’t get COVID and bring it home with your family.”

Wellcamp was “the right decision” at the time

Queensland Deputy Health Director Peter Aitken defended the decision to build the Wellcamp quarantine facility. (ABC News: Mark Leonardi)

Asked about the State Government’s decision to remove the $220 million Wellcamp quarantine facility, Dr Aitken said opening the site was the “right decision” at the time.

“Remember when we were talking about planning for Wellcamp and isolation, we were talking about Delta [the variant] and Delta is a very different beast … it has much more severe disease, much higher mortality rates, much higher hospitalizations and ICU rates,” Dr Aitken said.

“I think it was the right decision to look at planning how we could isolate, quarantine and protect our communities from what was a much more serious virus.

“I don’t think any international epidemiologist anywhere has been able to predict the waves, the mutations, the different strains that have occurred with COVID and I think it’s probably important that we plan for the worst and hope for the best.

“I think this has been a very important insurance policy.”

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said his only regret was that the facility was not built sooner.

“If we had built it sooner, it would have been available sooner, Queenslanders would have been safer,” Mr Miles said.

“Throughout the pandemic, we took a preparedness approach and I have no regrets.

“When we finally decided to go ahead with facilities, it was the day after we had maxed out our hotel accommodations across the state … we had over 5,000 people in hotel quarantine.”

Miles said isolation facilities had also been halted in other states.

“We weren’t the only people who thought we needed a dedicated quarantine facility, we were the fastest to build them,” he said.

Wellcamp’s lease from the State Government will end in April next year.

Miles said the government was evaluating alternative uses for the site as of February, but the facility was “inappropriate” for some proposed options, such as a center for the homeless or victims of domestic violence.

“The nature of a quarantine facility is to keep people apart,” he said.

“We will continue to evaluate them [the options] and if there are enough of them, the facility will be there for that use,” he said.

Dr Aitken said he was “very confident” Ekka would go ahead as planned in early August.

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