26 September 2023

New law to manage pandemic changes

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The Department of Health has announced the lifting of the Public Health Emergency Declaration which formed the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic from January 2020 on.

The move on 31 October followed legislation passed in State Parliament creating a new COVID-19 management framework to manage the next phase of the pandemic.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Yvette D’Ath said the new framework would allow Queensland to adjust its approach to the management of COVID-19 to reflect the new reality of living with the pandemic.

“When the emergency declaration was first made on 29 January 2020, the world was still coming to terms with this strange virus emanating from Wuhan, China,” Ms D’Ath said.

“The modelling at that time suggested that more than 10,000 Queenslanders would lose their lives if there was widespread community transmission before vaccination.”

She said Queensland lost 2,277 lives with “every single one of these deaths is a tragedy”.

“However, thanks to the collective efforts of Queenslanders, we didn’t let the virus run rampant; we were able to live with a semblance of normality throughout the pandemic that very few other communities had,” Ms D’Ath said.

“At our peak, there were 1,123 beds occupied by COVID patients in Queensland; today, that figure stands at 92 in our public hospitals. At its highest, there were 54 COVID patients in intensive care units; today, that figure sits at three.”

She said the new legislation provided that the Chief Health Officer could only issue a public health direction if satisfied the direction was reasonably necessary to prevent or respond to a serious risk to the public health system or the community as a result of COVID-19.

“Or to give effect to decisions of National Cabinet or advice from national advisory bodies relating to the public health response to COVID-19,” the Minister said.

The powers the Chief Health Officer under the legislation have a sunset clause of 31 October 2023.

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