Ten new paramedics for Townsville to boost COVID-19 frontline response

Source: Government of Queensland

The fight against COVID-19 continues with additional Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) officers fast-tracked into Queensland communities to assist in the pandemic response.

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said Townsville locals can be reassured the Palaszczuk Government is continuing to boost frontline resources to assist patients who’ve contracted the virus.

“Our healthcare workers are literally at the coal face of our fight against this pandemic,” Mr Harper said.

“Which is why we have already deployed an extra 10 paramedics in the Townsville region.”

Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke said six of the new paramedics will be stationed at Townsville, three at Charters Towers and one at Ayr.

“Unfortunately, we know the number of cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks which is why we’ve fast-tracking paramedic training, to get extra sets of hands into Queensland communities.”

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said our ambulance officers are playing a big role in identifying potential COVID-19 cases and getting patients to facilities where they can be tested, and isolated and treated as required.

“By adding extra staff to the workforce we are ensuring we have the capacity in the health system to support Queenslanders should they need it.”

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles said an additional 60 new graduates will begin training later this month.

“The graduates will be deployed within three weeks of their induction to assist with the pandemic response across the State.

“The Majority will be placed in the South East corner of the state depending on where the demand is.”

QAS Triple Zero (000) Operations Centres will also get a boost, with an additional 15 Emergency Medical Dispatchers to begin training on 27 April 2020.

QAS Commissioner Russell Bowles said planning for an expected surge in workload had been ongoing since January.

“We’re well versed at preparing for and responding to major events and while this pandemic is something new we’re confident we have the plans in place to meet community demand,” Commissioner Bowles said.

ENDS

Stronger border controls imminent

Source: Government of Queensland Regions

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Anyone who is not a Queensland resident or considered exempt from the restrictions will not be able to enter Queensland from 12.01am Friday, April 3, 2020.

And it’s important to note that people with an exemption must have a border pass prior to crossing the border.  

If they don’t have a border pass then they will be turned around

Freight transport services are exempt and will be allowed through without a border pass permit.

The restrictions will replace the current arrangements which enable people to cross the border provided they self-quarantine for 14 days. 

Additional barriers will be erected in the streets of Coolangatta to further enforce border controls.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said strengthening border crossings and reducing the number of people travelling to Queensland would assist in minimising the spread of the virus.

“Now is not the time to be travelling interstate unnecessarily,” Minister Ryan said.

“Unless you are a Queensland resident or have an exemption such as you work here or are required to travel for medical reasons, or are involved in freight transportation, you will be turned away.

“We are giving people plenty of warning about the stronger border controls that are being put in place.

“We are doing this in the interests of community safety.”

Since Queensland implemented border restrictions on Wednesday, 25 March, 19,760 vehicles have been intercepted and police have issued 1,451 quarantine orders to people crossing the border.

Commissioner Katarina Carroll said police were appreciative of the cooperation shown by the majority of motorists during the border crossing process.

“We know the border controls have caused some delays on the roads, however, we are very grateful for the majority of drivers who have been cooperative and followed police directions,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“The stronger measures will reduce the need for police to conduct follow-up quarantine checks for those who are directed to self-isolate when crossing the border.

“Importantly, penalties may apply to any non-Queensland resident without an exemption who enters the state.” 

For more information about border restrictions and exemptions visit: https://www.qld.gov.au/about/newsroom/queensland-border-restrictions.

Ends

Media contacts 

Minister Ryan’s Office: Ph: (07) 3035 8300

Police Media: Ph: (07) 3015 2444

 

 

 

Townsville Health heroes combatting the COVID-19 crisis

Source: Government of Queensland

Townsville doctors, nurses, paramedics and health professionals are expected to receive up to $158 million in extra funding to ramp up their COVID-19 preparations thanks to the Palaszczuk Government. 

Health Minister Steven Miles today met with staff at Townsville University Hospital with Member for ThuringowaAaron Harper, Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart to thank staff for their dedication to protecting their community.

“COVID-19 has impacted communities across our state, and I would like to thank the staff at Townsville Hospital and Health Service for their ongoing dedication to protecting their fellow Queenslanders,” Minister Miles said.

“We are in extraordinary circumstances, and I would like to wholeheartedly thank our health heroes on the frontline who have been working around the clock to care for and manage patients who have fallen ill to COVID-19.

“They have done such a wonderful job from the beginning in planning and responding to COVID-19 in their community.

“Whether they’re treating COVID-19 patients, conducting contact tracing, implementing prevention measures or managing health resources, they’re working incredibly hard to protect Queenslanders.

“One of the main purposes of our visits is to meet with key clinicians and executives and determine what more can be done to contain COVID-19. Every one of our Hospital and Health Services has a comprehensive plan in place but pandemics by their very nature are unpredictable and apt to change rapidly so it’s critical they have our full support.”

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said thousands of hours had gone into preparing to respond to COVID-19 in North Queensland.

“We’ve been working non-stop to prepare for COVID-19 in Townsville and the community should be confident in our ability to rise to the challenge,” he said.

“There are strong plans in place to ramp up our response quickly when we see increased cases in Townsville.

“Our teams are ready to go to support our community. We’ll stay at work for you but please stay at home for us.”

Mr Keyes said Townsville had commissioned a dedicated inpatient ward to treat COVID-19 patients, had a pathology laboratory that could test for COVID-19 and had conducted a series of public health briefings with key health and community stakeholders.

“Townsville Hospital and Health Service currently has no inpatients with COVID-19, all cases are either isolating at home or have recovered, and has seen 19 confirmed cases.”

781 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Queensland, an increase of 40 cases in the past day. Three people have died from the disease.

Queensland Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young said no region was immune to the novel coronavirus.

“While the majority of cases are in southeast Queensland, numbers are unfortunately climbing in regional areas of the state,” she said.

“This is a pandemic, which means no matter where people live, they are at risk of COVID-19. The best way to avoid infection is to follow our advice and comply with rules in place regarding quarantine and isolation, social distancing, shutdown protocols, personal hygiene and non-essential travel.

“Heeding our advice will save lives; if not your own, then someone else’s.”

For more information on COVID-19 in Queensland, visit https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19.

 ENDS

Care army mobilised to support and protect seniors from coronavirus

Source: Government of Queensland Regions

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases with age and the Queensland Government was mobilising the Care Army to protect up to one million seniors.

“Queensland’s community spirit always shines through in times of crisis, as it did when the Mud Army went into action after the 2011 floods,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“The Care Army may operate differently because of health and safety restrictions, but the spirit and effect remain the same.

“Many seniors will of course be supported by family, but others will need volunteers and community service organisations to help them stay home and stay safe and with things such as food or medicine drops. Even something as simple as a daily telephone call can make a huge difference.

“Older people, particularly those with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease or a weakened immune system are most at risk of serious infection.”

The government is today expanding the Community Recovery Hotline – a free call on 1800 173 349 – to link seniors and other vulnerable Queenslanders to essential services and support.

Queenslanders wanting to volunteer should also contact 1800 173 349.

A new COVID-19 Seniors Panel, led by Minister Kate Jones reporting directly to the Premier, will co-ordinate the Care Army and launch a community awareness campaign about how to help our seniors with Communities Minister Coralee O’Rourke assisting in the regions.

Ms Jones said she had already started working with Queensland Health, community organisations, supermarkets and pharmacies and would also work closely with Minister O’Rourke.

“When the Premier asked me to do this job I jumped at the chance because it’s so critical,” Ms Jones said.

“We will scale up care and support services for Queenslanders over 65 years of age with underlying health issues, all Queenslanders aged over 70 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 with one or more chronic diseases.

“The best place for seniors to be right now is in their own home. Seniors should not be out and about doing errands that someone else can do for them.

“It is now up to every single Queenslander to show we care.

“Whether it’s your mother, your grandfather, your next-door neighbour or a friend – we all know a senior in our community who will need us so they can stay safe from infection.

“If you don’t have family or friends in this age group who you can help, we still need you to step up and help those people who will be looking for it and you can do that by contacting our 1800 number.

“We’ll give clear advice to family members and friends about how to safely support seniors.”

Ms Jones said Queensland Health had strongly advised Queenslanders to limit their interaction with people who are at a higher risk of COVID-19 – including seniors.

“We are urging Queenslanders to immediately work out a plan with their families and loved ones to ensure seniors have access to essentials without leaving their homes,” she said

“Being isolated from loved ones can be stressful for all of us.

“Switching to a chat over the phone, video call or email rather than visits face to face are recommended to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.

“Grandchildren should not be visiting grandparents who are in the at-risk aged group.

“Instead of driving your grandparent to the shops, get their list and do the grocery shop for them.”

Minister Coralee O’Rourke said there were a number of practical steps people could take to keep seniors safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not just about food and medicine. We need to keep people engaged during this tough time,” she said.

“Pick up the phone and talk to your parents or grandparents. Ask how they’re doing and if they need help.

“Queenslanders have gone through their fair share of floods, fires and cyclones because we’ve taken care of each other. We need to do the same during the coronavirus pandemic.”

COVID-19 Seniors Panel

  • Minister Kate Jones (Chair)
  • Minister Coralee O’Rourke
  • Council of the Ageing Australia (Queensland) Chief Executive Mark Tucker-Evans
  • QCOSS Chief Executive Aimee McVeigh
  • Red Cross Queensland Chief Executive Garry Page
  • Community Services Industry Association Chief Executive Belinda Drew
  • Professor Peter Coaldrake AO
  • Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development Director General Damien Walker
  • Department of Communities Director General Clare O’Connor
  • Department of Communities Deputy Director General Barb Phillips
  • Smart Services Queensland Deputy Director General Andrew Spina

 

For more information: www.covid19.qld.gov.au/carearmy

VIDEO: https://facebook.com/annastaciamp/videos/219789402706178/

To volunteer – Community Recovery Hotline: 1800 173 349

ENDS

Media contact:

Minister Jones: Jack Harbour 0419 620 447

 

 

 

From Racing Cars to Ventilators… Queensland Ingenuity at its best

Source: Government of Queensland Regions

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Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the local race car company had been working around the clock for the past two weeks to develop the prototype.

“This is what Queensland manufacturing is all about. Hard work, ingenuity and solving problems.

“It’s so impressive that, within just a few weeks, this company has transitioned their capability, intellect and resources to a product that could ultimately save lives.

“It’s also fantastic to hear that Triple Eight has focused on using readily available, local materials.

“Triple Eight suspended its usual operation following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix, and the positive, forward-looking approach of this company has been heartening to see.”

Roland Dane, Team Principle of Triple Eight Race Engineering said the prototype was the result of a dedicated engineering team and input from medical professionals, local intensive care unit experts, as well as the Department of State Development.

“We were able to utilise in-house 3D printing services provided by our team partner HP and we believe the ventilator could be put into production within a short space of time but we are now continuing development with the help of the Department to improve our unit further,” he said.

“The Department of State Development have helped us identify and build supply chains for required componentry and ventilator accessories such as alarm circuitry, tubing and masks

“This is very early days, and we have to make sure all regulatory requirements are met, but we stand ready to help in whatever way we can.

“I’m so proud of the innovation and agility of my team, and what we can do when we put our minds to it.”

Leanne Linard, Member for Nudgee said it was a wonderful initiative by a great local company.

“While there is still a long way to go, I know the engineering capability at Triple Eight is second to none,” she said.

“It’s great to see so many local companies stepping up at this time.”

Hear more about this exciting work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=987rfTSLfJk

Media contact: Lesley Major 0419 288 284

Border controls extend to FIFO mine workers

Source: Government of Queensland

Only critical interstate fly-in-fly-out mine workers will be allowed into Queensland to protect remote and regional communities and local mine workforces.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today announced that Queensland would close its borders from midnight Saturday to interstate FIFO workers unless they were critical to a project’s operations.  

“As all resources ministers around the country have said, the resources sector is essential to maintaining a strong Australian economy,” he said.

“It is critical that we move now to prevent people who may have been exposed to the virus bringing it to Queensland.

“Queensland has no known cases in our remote regional communities, and restricting these workers from entering the State will remove a possible transmission route.

“Exempting critical people will ensure that resources projects can continue to produce the mineral and energy resources we need,” Dr Lynham said.

“Most importantly, these critical people will ensure projects operate safely for the workers on site.”

The ban will exempt people critical to operations, including statutory positions specified in legislation. Statutory positions include people responsible for worker health and safety.

See a full list of statutory positions.  

The changes do not affect FIFO or DIDO workers travelling from within Queensland.

Dr Lynham said most of Queensland’s resources companies had already stepped up their procedures in response to the pandemic.

“Government has been working with industry for some time on protective measures,” he said.

“All resources projects in Queensland are providing a COVID plan for their interstate workers to Queensland Health, and have been requested to prepare plans for their intrastate workers.”

The Chief Health Officer has already sought extra precautions in camps and those on the move, whether FIFO or drive-In, drive-out (DIDO).

In camps:

  • infection control in kitchens and food preparation areas. 
  • suitable accommodation for self-quarantine 
  • maintaining social distancing in camps, including for recreational activities, including outdoor sport
  • limiting movement of workers from camps and into the broader community
  • no more ‘hot bedding’ to limit contact between employees
  • cleaning each room thoroughly between uses, including changing and washing linen.

On transport:

  • avoiding close contact during transport, including reducing the numbers of people travelling on buses and aircraft.
  • thorough cleans between passenger loads getting off, and those getting on
  • temperature testing at airports for passengers boarding aircraft
  • people with symptoms not travelling, and to immediately isolate, and seek medical advice.
  • reducing FIFO and DIDO during the COVID-19 to minimise the mass movement of people.

[ENDS]

Media inquiries: Jan Martin 0439 341 314

 

 

 

   

Fishing and essential boat use to continue

Source: Government of Queensland

Queensland boaties can still take their boats out locally to fish or travel for essential reasons.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey clarified the rules for boaties as the evolving COVID-19 response restricted a range of activities.

“If you own a boat and want to head out in the water in your local community to fish for food this weekend, you can,” Mr Bailey said.

“If you need your boat to travel locally in your community, you can still do that.

“If you want to head out on your kayak or stand up paddle board for exercise, you still can.

“State Government boat ramps will remain open to boaties.

“We want people to continue living their lives as normally as possible under the current circumstances, but the advice of the Chief Health Officer needs to be followed.

“No one should be leaving their home unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Mr Bailey said recent national directives limiting public gatherings to two people or less and limiting travel to essential purposes still applied.

“This isn’t a special rule to let people out on the water for non-essential reasons this weekend,” Mr Bailey said.

“There’s no reason for anyone to be taking the boat out unless it’s for essential travel to get to work, to and from your home, to local shops for provisions or catching fish for your family.

“Even then, there should be no more than two people, or immediate family members on board, and the social distancing rules everyone is being asked to follow still apply.

“Boaties should also be mindful of hygiene when putting boats in the water at public facilities.”

Mr Bailey encouraged boaties to continue monitoring the national health advice on COVID-19.

“As the nation works together to stop the spread of the virus, there is new advice daily.

“Boaties should be aware of the current restrictions on boat use, and be prepared for that advice to change again, should tougher rules to limit public movements and interaction come in.”

ENDS

Five Queensland Police Officers awarded for bravery in the field

Source: Government of Queensland

Minister for Police and Minister for Corrective Services, the Honourable Mark Ryan MP, and Commissioner Katarina Carroll have congratulated the Queensland Police Service (QPS) Officers who received Australian Bravery Decorations in honour of their heroic efforts. 

A total of five officers have received medals and citations as part of the Australian Bravery Decorations, announced by the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd).

The awards honour those across Australia for their selfless actions in times of danger and threat, celebrating their bravery and the example they set. 

Commissioner Carroll said the QPS recipients of the Bravery Medals had shown great bravery in the face of extreme danger. 

“Senior Sergeant Bradyn Murphy from the Gold Coast District Road Policing Unit has been recognised for his actions during the apprehension of two armed offenders following a high-speed vehicle pursuit near Tweed Heads in New South Wales on February 5, 2015,” Commissioner Carroll said. 

“Constable Matthew Woodham from Mundingburra Police Station has been recognised for his considerable bravery during the rescue of an elderly couple from a burning house in Mundingburra, Queensland on May 22, 2018. 

“On behalf of the Queensland Police Service, I thank all of the officers awarded today for their dedication to not only their roles, but the community as well.

“We are proud to say that each of the QPS recipients have represented the Service with honour, showcasing their willingness to help others through their selfless acts.”

Minister Ryan paid tribute to those officers who received Group Bravery Citations. 

“Constable Jeremy Gardiol from Gympie Police Station has been recognised for his actions during the rescue of a man from a burning vehicle at Gympie in Queensland on June 6, 2018,” Minister Ryan said.

“Along with Senior Sergeant Bradyn Murphy from the Gold Coast District Road Policing Unit, Senior Constable Luke Davies from the Gold Coast District Criminal Investigation Branch (Southern) and Constable Matthew Siddall from Coolangatta Police Station all received Group Bravery Citations along with several New South Wales Police Force officers, for their actions during the apprehension of two armed offenders on February 5, 2015. 

“The actions of these officers are an inspiration for frontline officers across the QPS, as they have embodied the values that all emergency services demonstrate every day, putting themselves on the line to protect their fellow Queenslanders and Australians. 

“Congratulations to all those who have received awards,” Minister Ryan said. 

Media contacts 

Minister Ryan’s Office: Ph: (07) 3035 8300

Police Media: Ph: (07) 3015 2444

 

 

Regional power prices forecast to fall again

Source: Government of Queensland

Regional Queenslanders are tipped to see their biggest power bill cut in a decade, with prices set to fall for a typical household by $75, and small business by $116, a year from July 1.  

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the expected price drop complemented bill relief already announced.

The forecast fall is in the annual draft determination released today by the independent Queensland Competition Authority (QCA).

“With the COVID-19 emergency affecting everyone’s lives, it’s a small piece of positive news on the horizon for regional Queenslanders and regional businesses,” Dr Lynham said.

“The QCA has flagged 2020-21 regional electricity prices are set to fall for the third year in a row and for the fourth time under this government.

“We understand that Queenslanders now are even more concerned about the cost of living and getting though this unprecedented coronavirus crisis.

 “Times are tough, but this will be the biggest bill reduction for typical regional households in more than a decade.”

The forecast price fall from 1 July next year complements measures already announced.

Under the Palaszczuk Government’s $4 billion COVID-19 relief package announced a week ago, Queensland households will automatically receive $200 rebate off their electricity bill to assist with their household utility costs for electricity and water.

As well, households will receive a further two $50 electricity dividend payments to be delivered over the next two years.

Queensland small businesses will also receive a $500 rebate on their power bill this year.

The rebate will appear on bills in the coming months, depending on individual billing cycles.

Dr Lynham said even in this unfamiliar climate, regional Queenslanders could be assured that their power bills were going down.

“And if the final QCA decision reflects the draft, regional households will also see a 5.3 per cent drop in their annual power bill in the 2021-2022 financial year and small businesses a 5 per cent drop,” he said.

Dr Lynham said the QCA noted that price drops were largely due to reduced network and wholesale energy costs.

“Since 2015, the Queensland Government has been pulling the right policy levers to put downward pressure on power bills,” he said.

“Queenslanders pay the lowest average power prices of any mainland state in the National Electricity Market because we own our electricity assets.”

The QCA draft determination is open for submissions until 13 May at www.qca.org.au/submissions, with the final determination expected to be released by late June 2020.

[ENDS]

Media inquiries: Jan Martin 0439 341 314

Home confinement for Queenslanders

Source: Government of Queensland

Under the new Home Confinement Direction, you should not leave your home unless absolutely necessary for the following permitted reasons:

  • do essential shopping or for other essential goods and services
  • receive medical treatment or health services
  • exercise, either alone or with one other person or a family group
  • do work that is essential and cannot be done from home (this is any type of work that is not restricted under the ‘non-essential business activity and undertaking closure’ direction)
  • visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral
  • care for or support an immediate family member
  • attend Court or comply with a Court order
  • attend a childcare facility, school, university, or other educational institution to receive instruction that is not possible to receive at home.

If you do need to leave your home for one of these permitted reasons, you may do so with members of your household, or with one person who is not a member of your household.

We strongly urge people aged over 70, anybody over 60 with a chronic disease, and Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples over 50 to stay at home for their own protection. If you do have to go out, you can be accompanied by a support person.

Not following any of these regulations without reasonable excuse is a breach of the Public Health Act 2005 and you may be fined up to $1,330 for individuals and $6,670 for corporations.

Further information

You can: