“In the last seven days, we have had just eight new cases of COVID-19. That number would have been hard to believe just a few weeks ago when we were recording upwards of 50, 60, 70 cases each and every single day.”
Queensland’s cumulative total sits at 1033, with 84 active cases. Of those, 11 people remain in hospital, with six being treated in intensive care.
Queensland accounts for six coronavirus deaths, five of whom caught the virus on cruise ships, while 943 people have recovered.
Mr Miles delivered the figures while visiting the Sunshine Coast, where there has not been a new case for 17 days.
It’s a massive turnaround for the region, which at one time was feared to be an emerging frontline of the disease after a cluster of cases linked to a birthday party at a restaurant.
But one of Queensland’s top communicable disease doctors has urged caution around ideas such as the “elimination” of COVID-19 at regional and state levels.
Dr Sonya Bennett, executive director of Queensland Health’s communicable diseases branch, says even though new and active cases may be coming down, it is important to remember some people may be asymptomatic.
“I don’t think we can ever be certain to say … we’ve detected all the cases,” she said on Thursday.
With only those experiencing symptoms being tested across the state, Dr Bennett said a better term to explain the situation where there were no active cases would be “temporary suppression” – something that has almost been achieved on the Sunshine Coast.
The idea that there might be reservoirs of the virus still in the community despite the low official numbers is the reason why there will only be minor easing of restrictions this weekend.
“The fact that we still have one locally acquired [case] just reconfirms that we can’t become complacent about this virus,” Dr Bennett said.
“As the government is considering lifting physical distancing and other measures, we still would encourage the community to perform those behaviours … we know will help protect them and protect the other vulnerable members of our community.”
The active caseload managed by the two metro health units dropped by a combined 106 cases over the period. Metro South added four cases to its cumulative tally while Metro North dropped one.
On the Gold Coast, active cases have dropped 38 to just 15. These three regions are now the only ones with more than five active cases.
Shocking speeds recorded during COVID-19 traffic lull
The number of people dying on the roads continues to rise, with Queensland bucking the trend of Australian states in recording more road deaths than at the same time last year.
NSW and Victoria have seen a reduction in offences with their reduction in traffic on the roads, but Queensland’s road toll sits at 68 – eight higher than the same point last year.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said some people were taking advantage of the “free-flowing traffic” and it had to stop.
“We’ve made huge progress in flattening the curve, which is why some restrictions will be lifted, but we can’t afford to see that translate into deaths on our roads,” Mr Bailey said.
“From Saturday, Queenslanders will be able travel up to 50km from home for recreational purposes… let’s make every kilometre on that trip and every other trip into the future a safe one.”
One Brisbane driver was clocked doing 130km/h on the Story Bridge this week, when the river crossing’s speed limit was reduced to 40km/h due to roadworks.
Mobile speed cameras will be rolled out in force this long weekend, after they were temporarily shelved to allow police to concentrate on social distancing enforcement.
-with Matt Dennien and Toby Crockford
Stuart Layt covers health, science and technology for the Brisbane Times. He was formerly the Queensland political reporter for AAP.