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Lockdown likely to be extended unless cases plummet, experts warn

Dr Mackay said health authorities would not risk undoing the hard work of the previous eight days by easing restrictions too early.

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“We’d need to see no new transmission chains pop up, and we’d need to see every new case already in quarantine, not out in the community spreading the virus.”

Queensland health authorities on Wednesday were again pushing the message to everyone in the affected areas to stay at home unless they had to get something essential.

“Last year I didn’t have any problems with Bunnings being open and people going and buying pot plants and doing some gardening but that was with previous variants,” Dr Young said. “We just need to ramp it up. This is Delta.

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“If you can wait to buy that thing until next week, just leave it and let’s see where we are on Sunday and make some more decisions then about the necessity of whatever it is.”

Four of the 16 cases announced on Wednesday had been in the community while infectious, meaning there was still a window for the virus to spread further outside those already in quarantine.

Helping authorities get a handle on the situation was a record-breaking day for testing, with 51,479 tests performed in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning.

“We didn’t just break our testing record yesterday, we smashed it, which is a fantastic result,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

“Let’s keep that testing rate high. That’s one of the things that will allow us to get out of lockdown as quickly as possible.”

There were 5844 people in home quarantine on Wednesday, with 9598 people in quarantine across Queensland, including hotels.

The outbreak was uncovered after an Indooroopilly State High School student tested positive to the highly contagious Delta strain, with authorities still struggling to link the growing cluster to two returned international travellers who flew to Brisbane on June 29.

Dr Young said it was possible authorities would never find the missing link.

Millions of residents living in Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Noosa Shire, Redland City, Scenic Rim, Somerset and Sunshine Coast regions are in lockdown until 4pm on Sunday.

-with Felicity Caldwell and Matt Dennien

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