State records 5699 new cases of COVID-19

Queensland has recorded 5699 new infections of COVID-19 overnight as the state’s health minister warns most residents will likely contract the virus in the coming weeks.

There are now currently 170 people in hospital – a steady increase on yesterday’s numbers. Of those, 11 are being treated in the intensive care unit.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has warned residents to act cautiously as the virus spreads, with infections still expected to continue rising.

“Many people that you know are likely to have COVID,” she said.

“You are likely to get COVID yourself at some point in the near future.”

Ms D’Ath also flagged that some advice on the government’s website is incorrect, after a number of testing sites did not re-open today.

She said several private pathology sites were believed to have been opening today after a Christmas break, but had not.

Some will be re-opening on January 9, while confirmation is being sought on others.

Ms D’Ath said it was placing additional pressure on testing resources, and urged people to only line up for legitimate reasons.

From tomorrow, half a million rapid antigen tests will begin to roll out across public testing sites.

Tens of thousands of cases before state hits peak

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard has reiterated his message for residents to brace themselves for extremely high numbers of cases.

He said there were likely more cases of undetected COVID-19 in the community, however the main number to be concerned with are those being treated in hospital.

At present, there is little indication COVID-19 will quickly become endemic.
Authorities have warned residents to brace for high cases numbers across the board as the Omicron variant advances across the country. (Getty)

Queensland Pathology had reported 23 per cent of the last day’s tests had come back positive, he said.

“The numbers of cases we are expecting to see through January will be very high,” he said.

“Hundreds of thousands of cases, if not more, in Queensland.”

Residents urged to stay home

Meanwhile, residents have been urged to stay home as cases surge but people are still flocking to PCR testing queues, renewing the pressure on the health system.

A number of tests at a clinic run by a private operator were mislabelled, leading to some people needing to re-test and other results being delayed.

“PCR testing demand escalated quickly in Queensland in December 2021, and continues to place pressure on hospital and health services and private pathology providers, particularly over Christmas where some providers had planned reduced staffing levels,” a Queensland Health spokesperson said in a statement.

Testing queues in Brisbane are piling pressure on the health system. (9News)

“Removing the day five PCR testing requirement for those entering Queensland, changes to the definitions of close and casual contacts, and expanded use of rapid antigen testing will all assist to ease the testing burden over coming days and weeks.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said yesterday that Queensland had secured 18 million rapid antigen tests, with small batches to arrive in coming weeks before a larger supply at the end of January.

Queensland recorded 4249 new COVID-19 cases yesterday.

A man in his 30s, who died suddenly at his Gold Coast home, was recorded as a COVID-19 death, though it is being investigated by the coroner.

The man had tested positive with a rapid antigen test, but was awaiting his PCR results when he died.

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said the case was “very, very unusual”.

A sign on display advises the public to the requirements of face masks.

How Australia faced the emergence of the Omicron variant

Ms Palaszczuk urged people to limit their movements and reconsider attending large gatherings, with soaring case numbers set to increase pressure on the health system in coming weeks.

But it’s hoped that the peak of the current Omicron wave could be reached sooner rather than later.

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