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Call for record virus testing as Queensland maintains hard borders

“Closing our border to those two states was incredibly important. Which is good but we need to hold firm and we need to manage our domestic borders very carefully.”

The comments come amid firm pressure from the tourism industry to roll back travel restrictions for winter as a lifeline for the largely shuttered sector.

“If the tourist industry wants a realistic scenario, then they should be preparing for September,” Dr Young said.

However, even that is contingent on there being no second wave of virus cases as restrictions are relaxed, which would likely result in Dr Young putting the restrictions back in place.

She is calling for a record number of Queenslanders to get tested for the disease.

An unprecedented 4886 people were tested for COVID-19 in Queensland on Tuesday, and Dr Young said she would like to see that number hit 5000 in a single day, saying the state now had the capacity to do that.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young is watched by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Steven Miles at a media conference on Wednesday

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young is watched by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Steven Miles at a media conference on WednesdayCredit:AAP/ Dan Peled

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday again defended her top doctor’s advice to keep the state’s borders closed.

“We are very fortunate in Queensland to have, I believe, the best chief health officer there is in Australia,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Dr Young is well respected, she has been around [during] the swine flu, the SARS, and she prepared Queensland ahead of every other state.”

Queensland’s lone coronavirus case on Wednesday was a woman in her 70s who returned from India two months ago, however Dr Young said they were still investigating whether she acquired the disease overseas or in Queensland.

“She returned from India via Singapore two months ago and has now tested positive after developing some mild respiratory symptoms,” Dr Young said.

“We think it is most likely that she acquired the case in India, but we’ll now have to do a lot of work to work through that.”

Meanwhile, the final employee to be tested at a Rockhampton nursing home hit with a COVID-19 case last week has been cleared of the virus, as daily monitoring among the community continues.

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Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said the employee, who had been on leave, returned the negative test result on Tuesday.

The fact no new cases had emerged among the more than 270 staff and residents of the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre was hailed as a “miracle” by Mr Miles on Monday.

“We’ve completed the day-four testing of 77 residents there and all have returned negative,” he said.

Health authorities will continue to monitor all patients and staff from the nursing home for the 14-day incubation period.

– with Matt Dennien and Lydia Lynch

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