Queensland’s COVID-19 outbreak is surging on the Gold Coast with case numbers unclear, possibly due to a software glitch.
The latest figure of 9581 cases emerged after more than 21,000 tests in the 24 hours to 6.30 am on Monday taking the total number of active cases in the state to at least 90,000.
However, the numbers are lower than expected because at least four private pathology labs have been unable to report test results for Sunday, possibly due to a software glitch.
There are 419 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospital with 21 in intensive care and five of those on ventilators.
Chief Health Officer John Gerrard says more than half of the ICU cases and a quarter of the ward emissions are on the Gold Coast.
“We’ve said from the beginning that this this epidemic would not occur in an even spread and all at the same time across Queensland, and it looks like at the moment the surge is probably occurring on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“It’s not surprising, given the sheer number of interstate visitors which would cause seeding events to occur particularly in the area.”
Dr Gerrard says due to the state’s high vaccination rate, Omicron was starting to becoming the dominant variant.
He said 90 per cent of all cases in Queensland were that variant with the state experiencing an “Omicron pandemic”.
“It will be interesting to see how that differs from what has been seen elsewhere,” he told reporters.
“Omicron definitely can still cause severe disease, it’s not trivial.”
The state will delay the January 24 return of classes for most students until February 7 with Year 11 and 12 students to start online learning on January 31.
Dr Gerrard said the delay will allow children to get vaccinated before Febuary 7, but there will still be a surge whenever children go back school.
Children are likely to only experience mild illness, he said, but he’s more concerned about them spreading it to adults.
“In reality, the biggest risk is not to the children themselves instead of people around them to their parents and their grandparents,” the CHO said.
“So as much as anything else this two extra weeks give us an opportunity, to others who might be at risk, to get that third dose.”
Education Minister Grace Grace said the delay would also help ensure there’s enough staff available when schools return.
However, she has warned that the return could be impacted by tight vaccine supplies or high cases among school staff.
“Look, I don’t know exactly what’s going to come into the future,” Ms Grace told ABC Radio on Monday.
“But at this stage, we’re hoping that we’ll get over the peak of Queensland, that the two weeks will be sufficient and we’ll have face to face (learning) as soon as possible.”