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Three unvaccinated Victorian arrivals test positive in Qld hotel quarantine – Brisbane Times

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Queensland has detected three new COVID-19 cases in hotel quarantine among unvaccinated travellers from Victoria, as the state continues its push to hit key vaccine targets amid a drop in hesitancy.
Speaking to reporters in Cairns, where anti-vaccine mandate protesters partially derailed plans for a separate road announcement, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the cases were a “clear example” of the risk still posed by interstate arrivals.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged anyone with questions or concerns about COVID vaccines to speak to their GP, rather than listen to misinformation on social media.Credit:Dan Peled/Getty Images
“They were unvaccinated, and they have the virus, detected in hotel quarantine. So, it’s absolutely imperative that we continue to drive this vaccination program,” she said.
The state is on track to open its road borders to vaccinated domestic travellers from hotspot areas, without quarantine, before December 17. At present, vaccinated travellers from such areas can undertake home quarantine if they have access to suitable accommodation.
Almost 85.3 per cent of the state’s 16-plus population has now received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 74.51 per cent fully vaccinated.
Ms Palaszczuk said the state was still expecting to reach a 90 per cent vaccination rate in January, after which domestic and international border restrictions will ease further.
This has been bolstered in recent weeks by the announcement of rules locking unvaccinated people out of some sections of the Queensland economy from December 17, a decision that has drawn protests across the state and calls for more detail on how the restrictions will operate.
A ribbon-cutting event for the Smithfield Bypass near Cairns following the COVID press conference was met with a group of protesters with signs decrying “segregation” and “apartheid”.
The statewide protests have grown alongside a similar range of concerns about state government overreach across the country and pressure from federal backbench Coalition members for the Commonwealth to force states to drop the rules.
Experts have suggested the lockouts in Victoria should end once a 90 per cent full-vaccination rate is passed. NSW plans to lift what are essentially stay-at-home orders for unvaccinated people next month.
Responding to comments from Dawson MP George Christensen in Canberra on Wednesday, labelling the restrictions on par with “totalitarian regimes”, Ms Palaszczuk said they were “definitely out of order”.
“But can I say, if anyone has any concerns or issues, please — there’s a lot of misinformation on Facebook and social media — please go and sit down with your trusted GP,” she said.
“People have had vaccines in their childhood, they have vaccines to go overseas, and now this vaccine is very effective preventing death from COVID. I don’t want to see Queensland end up like what’s happened around the world.”
On Thursday, Victoria became the third Australian jurisdiction to pass the milestone behind the ACT and NSW for its 12-plus population.
While hesitancy around the vaccine remains highest in Queensland, with about 11 per cent unsure or unwilling to get the jabs, this was a sharp fall from three weeks ago when the figure was above 18 per cent, based on survey data from the Melbourne Institute’s Vaccine Hesitancy Tracker.
Figures for most other states sit below 5 per cent, with South Australia the second-most-hesitant behind Queensland on 9.5 per cent. All results are significantly lower than at a similar point last year, when about a quarter of all Australians were unsure or unwilling.
Speaking later in Brisbane, Deputy Chief Health Officer James Smith said while there was still a group who remained hesitant, those with concerns appear to have “largely had those questions answered”.
“We still keep trying to encourage people to be vaccinated,” Dr Smith said. “It’s critical, it’s our path out of here, particularly in regional areas where there are sometimes challenges accessing health care due to the geographical location.”
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