Queensland records another COVID death, more than 20,000 cases

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Queensland has recorded 20,566 new COVID-19 infections, with the sharp jump in the number of infections partially due to previous delays at private labs.

The state also recorded one additional death, a man in his late 70s who had “very significant” underlying medical problems, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

Tuesday’s case numbers are more than double Monday’s 9581, which were lower than expected because four private pathology labs were unable to report test results for Sunday.

There are currently more than 109,000 active cases in the state.

The increase in case numbers is putting extra pressure on the state’s hospitals, with more than 500 patients being treated, and another 27 in intensive care.

Members of the public are seen in the Brisbane CBD. Credit: RUSSELL FREEMAN / AAPIMAGE

Chief health officer John Gerrard said the number of ward patients was predicted to keep increasing until the second week of February.

“Those numbers will become quite significant in the coming weeks… and then hopefully, if the mathematical modelling is correct, it will start to decline after that,” Dr Gerrard said.

The expected rise in hospital admissions and “significantly more” ICU patients will be a tense time for healthcare workers, he said.

More than 2100 heath workers have tested positive for the virus, and another 2715 have been deemed close contacts.

“There might be some close contacts who are being monitored and being swapped daily and working in the wards,” Dr Gerrard said.

Local residents line up at a drive-in testing centre in Brisbane. Credit: AAP

Concern about the rate of infection on the Gold Coast remains as the holiday destination passes the 90 per cent single-dose vaccination mark.

“Disappointingly, what we’ve found on the Gold Coast is a lot of people not wearing masks,” Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Tuesday.

Police are running several operations in the region, including the Pacific Fair shopping centre, and say those flouting mask rules are “predominantly people visiting the state”.

Meanwhile, the government has postponed the start of the school year from January 24 until February 7 for most students, with Year 11 and 12 students to start online learning on January 31.

The delay will allow most children to get vaccinated before school returns, Dr Gerrard said, but there will still be a surge when classes go back.

Qld court staff consulted on vaccine mandate, but visitors, prisoners not subject to directive

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Queensland court staff have been consulted on a vaccine mandate, but the proposed plan will not subject visitors or prisoners to the same directive if approved.

The proposal issued to staff on Wednesday states staff must provide proof of vaccination, if not exempted for an accepted reason, and existing employees must have received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 28.

The proposed plan will not include visitors to court, meaning unvaccinated can still enter court grounds. Credit:Toby Crockford

They must also receive a second dose by March 1, and where additional doses of a vaccine are required to be considered “fully vaccinated”, they must also ensure they are up to date with vaccinations.

But unvaccinated people who may be appearing for a legal matter or visiting for a case will be allowed, if the plan is approved.

Qld union officials who refused to leave M1 worksite taken to court

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Two state representatives of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime and Energy Union will be taken to court over allegations they contravened entry requirements and did not comply with directions at a Queensland motorway worksite.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission has started court action against the union and its two representatives over incidents in April last year.

It is alleged the officials entered exclusion zones and refused to leave when told to. Credit:File photo/Louise Kennerley

In its statement of claim, the ABCC alleged officials Dean Rielly and Paul Fitzpatrick entered an M1 worksite on April 19 using a vehicle access point at Burleigh Heads, ignoring signs requiring all visitors to report to the main site office.

The officials were then alleged to have entered a cordoned-off exclusion zone where heavy machinery, including a crane, was in operation.

ATO urged to address ‘super rip-off’ impacting Qld workers

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Business

A national body has called on the ATO and politicians to address super contribution in Queensland, with new analysis showing the state’s cumulative unpair super debt has climbed past $5 billion in recent years.

According to Industry Super Australia’s (ISA) analysis of tax data, more than 570,000 Queensland workers were not paid $940 million in super, losing an average of $1,600 in 2018/19.

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The body’s report, titled Super Scandalous: how to fix the $5 billion scourge of unpaid super , showed in six years, the state’s cumulative unpaid super debt has climbed to $5.5 billion. The research found young Queensland workers and those on lower incomes are most likely to be underpaid.

Commenting on the findings, ISA chief executive Bernie Dean said the issue needs urgent addressing by the ATO and politicians alike.

“The report’s key recommendation for fixing the unpaid super scourge in Queensland is to mandate all employers pay super into a workers’ account when wages are paid,” he said.

“Not paying super with wages makes it difficult for workers to keep track of their money and allows payments to fall through the crack. Federal politicians have known about this solution for years but have failed to act.

“Unpaid super creates an unequal playing field, as the employers doing the right thing are undercut by competitors who are ripping their workers off.

“Workers must largely rely on the Australian Tax Office to recover their money as it is difficult to sue for super, but it only recovers a dismal 12 per cent of underpayments annually and rarely punishes dodgy bosses. If the ATO is unwilling or unable to recover Queensland workers’ savings the law should be changed so that employees, the Fair Work Ombudsman, and others acting on behalf of workers can.”

The report outlined four measures it encouraged politicians to adopt to address the issue.

The first is to mandate super payment at the same time as wages. The second is to lift enforcement activity and “force the ATO to issue and publicise penalties for not paying super – so dodgy employers can see there is a cop on the beat”.

The third is to empower employees and representatives to recover unpaid super debts, and the fourth is to extend the Fair Entitlement Guarantee “so workers can recoup their savings if a company goes bust”.

“Super is your money, it should be paid at the same time as wages. By not mandating the payment of super with wages, politicians are stopping millions getting what they are owed,” Mr Dean said.

“Our federal politicians get their super paid on payday, so should all Queensland workers.

“Most employers are doing the right thing, but they are being undercut by competitors who are getting away with daylight robbery. Paying super with wages is the only way to get workers their money and level the playing field for business.”

ATO urged to address ‘super rip-off’ impacting Qld workers Emma Ryan Last Updated: 11 January 2022 Published: 12 January 2022

Qld reports 20,566 COVID cases, one death

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news, national

Queensland’s active COVID-19 cases have increased by 20,566, with the sharp jump in the number of infections partially due to previous delays at private labs. There has also been one additional COVID-19 death recorded, a man in his late 70s who had “very significant” underlying medical problems. The new figures come as Chief Health Officer John Gerrard labelled people reportedly infecting themselves deliberately at “COVID-19 parties” as “utterly ridiculous”. “The best way to get immunity to this virus is through vaccination, not through COVID parties, they are ridiculous so please stop them,” he said. Tuesday’s case numbers are more than double Monday’s total, which was lower than expected because four private pathology labs were unable to report test results for Sunday. The increase in case numbers is putting extra pressure on the state’s hospitals, with more than 500 patients being looked after in wards, and another 27 in intensive care. Chief health officer John Gerrard said the number of ward patients was predicted to keep increasing until the second week of February. “Those numbers will become quite significant in the coming weeks… and then hopefully, if the mathematical modelling is correct, it will start to decline after that,” Dr Gerrard said. The expected rise in hospital admissions and “significantly more” ICU patients will be a tense time for healthcare workers, he said. More than 2100 heath workers have tested positive to the virus, and another 2715 have been deemed close contacts. “There might be some close contacts who are being monitored and being swapped daily and working in the wards,” Dr Gerrard said. Concern about the rate of infection on the Gold Coast remains as the holiday destination passes the 90 per cent single dose vaccination mark. “Disappointingly, what we’ve found on the Gold Coast is a lot of people not wearing masks,” Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Tuesday. Police are running several operations in the region, including the Pacific Fair shopping centre, and say those flouting mask rules are “predominantly people visiting the state”. Meanwhile, all new jury trials in Queensland will be suspended for at least a month after the state’s outbreak grew to more than 100,000 cases. Jury trials will not recommence before February 21, with the situation to be reviewed on February 11, Supreme Court Chief Justice Catherine Holmes and Chief District Court Judge Brian Devereaux said in a statement on Tuesday. The start of the school year has also been postponed from January 24 until February 7 for most students, with Year 11 and 12 students to start online learning on January 31. An extra week of school will be added in December to help make up for the delay. “I went to the vaccination centre yesterday speaking to parents… they’re extremely thankful that has been pushed back by two weeks,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday. Currently at least 87.85 per cent of eligible Queenslanders are fully vaccinated, and 91.16 per cent have had at least one dose. Australian Associated Press

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