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Govt slams ‘abhorrent’ racist attacks as virus flatlines in Queensland

Health Minister Steven Miles said the low numbers were “fantastic”.

“You’ll recall we went very quickly from those low numbers at the beginning of March to a peak of 78 on the 24th of March,” he said.

“So to have compressed that rate to five is a fantastic result and a credit to all Queenslanders who have complied with those social-distancing restrictions.”

However, the government still issued an admonishment after reported rises in “racially motivated” incidents against people of Chinese background in recent days.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll revealed police had laid 22 charges since March 1.

The charges span assaults, robberies and abusive graffiti, with three cases unsolved.

“These are racially motivated offences,” Ms Carroll said, urging members of the community to come forward to ensure police could act on the “abhorrent behaviour”.

In one of the cases, police charged a 15-year-old girl after she allegedly accused a woman, 26, of having coronavirus before punching her in the face several times in Queen Street Mall.

Meanwhile, Queensland Chinese United Council spokesman Michael Choi said referring to COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus” was “unhelpful and unwise”.

“It gives rise to stigmatisation and encourages some people who have bias and prejudice to exercise their prejudices,” he said.

“We have to stay together and work together to combat this enemy of ours.”

Some elective surgeries to resume

The work being done to reduce the number of virus cases has meant the demand on the state’s hospitals system has been much lower than many of the predictions at the start of the pandemic.

As a result, Mr Miles said they were looking at increasing the amount of elective surgery being done in Queensland.

Category one cases – the most urgent – have been progressing as normal, however Mr Miles said many less urgent but still debilitating category two procedures would now be able to be considered.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the latest figures were a "fantastic result".

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the latest figures were a “fantastic result”.Credit:Darren England/AAP

“We will be working through the most urgent, the most painful, debilitating illnesses and prioritising those,” he said.

“As well as screenings for those cancers and other diseases which, if we identify them early, we can increase the chance of people surviving.

“We don’t want to see people, Queensland women, dying of breast cancer because they were not breast-screened through this pandemic.”

Interstate cases of virus on the rise

Both Mr Miles and Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young expressed concern about a small but growing number of virus cases coming from interstate.

There have now been 17 Queenslanders who acquired a COVID-19 infection from having travelled interstate and then returning.

“So it is really, really important if you don’t need to leave your own community, please don’t,” Dr Young said.

“Definitely don’t travel interstate and if you do travel interstate, in most cases, you will be required to go into quarantine for 14 days on return.”

Dr Young said there was only one new case of community transmission – where the source of infection was a mystery – overnight on Wednesday, which brought the total number of those cases to 39.

Queensland police have been turning away hundreds of people seeking to cross into Queensland from NSW on the Gold Coast.

Queensland police have been turning away hundreds of people seeking to cross into Queensland from NSW on the Gold Coast.Credit:AAP

It comes as 60 new paramedics are rushed into service to help with the pandemic response.

They will be progressively deployed across the state as their sped-up inductions and training are completed, while the Queensland Ambulance Service call centre will be bolstered this month with an additional 15 emergency medical dispatchers.

Some virus fines torn up, but police stand by most

Of the 884 infringement notices handed out by police to people breaching social-distancing rules, 27 have now been revoked through the official review process.

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Ms Carroll said rather than a sign the fines were too heavy-handed, it showed the review process was working as intended.

“We actually have withdrawn some 27 of those infringement notices, so we act on that very, very quickly,” she said.

“But I believe that the rest will stack up in court because the evidence is clearly there.”

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