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Qld scraps day five check, cases pass 1000

Queensland has scrapped the controversial day five PCR tests for interstate visitors admitting it wasn’t “contributing in any way” to keeping the community safe.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic Queensland’s case numbers have soared beyond 1000.

Infections surged to 1158 on Tuesday, with the number of active cases rising to 4779 and 257 Omicron cases recorded.

Only six people have been admitted to the hospital, with none in intensive care.

The number of new cases was significantly higher than the 784 reported on Monday, and came after Queenslanders were repeatedly warned infection numbers would increase.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath announced the change to the day five tests, telling tourists in line at state testing centres they could walk away.

Of the tens of thousands of travellers who have crossed state lines since the Queensland border re-opened, only 0.6 per cent have recorded a positive result in the day five test.

“The chief health officer advised us that we no longer need to continue these tests,” Ms D’Ath said.

“Anyone who is waiting in lines now for the day five test can leave, they will not be required to get a day five test from now.

“We thank everyone for doing the right thing – we have made sure we’ve done this in a safe and responsible way, but from now, that no longer applies.”

Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said scrapping the tests will allow Queensland Health resources to be “better used” elsewhere – including testing those who have been exposed to a known infection.

“The positivity rate in the second test taken on day five has proven to be extremely low, remembering that all of these people will have received a negative test prior to crossing the border,” Dr Gerrard said.

“It is not contributing in any way to the safety of Queenslanders and that resource can be used better elsewhere.”

Queensland’s tough testing regime has come under fire, particularly from NSW.

Visitors to Queensland still require a negative PCR test within 72 hours of coming to the state, which NSW has labelled “tourism testing”.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says the requirement has clogged the already overwhelmed testing system in his state.

“It’s putting enormous pressure, pretty incredible pressure on the clinical needs of testing here in NSW for people who really need to know whether they are or they are not positive to the current virus,” Mr Hazzard said.

“It’s time that the PCR tests for tourism testing were dropped.

“We need to understand that rapid antigen tests make more sense for people who are about to cross the border.”

Queensland has foreshadowed further changes to its testing regime, but Ms D’Ath said the pre-arrival test was still necessary with daily rates surging in NSW.

“It is really important that pre-arrival test occurs, however … we are currently looking at whether we can move to the rapid antigen tests from the first of January, but we’ve also got to make sure there’s adequate supply,” she said.

“COVID is spreading very quickly through NSW, we’ve still got to be careful.”

Queensland on Tuesday hit 90.5 per cent of people having received one dose of a vaccine, according to federal government data.

At least 86.1 per cent of eligible residents aged over 16 are now fully vaccinated.

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