A top doctor says a wave of up to 16,000 serious Covid cases will rip through Queensland when borders are opened in December.
Dr John Gerrard, the head of infectious diseases at Gold Coast University Hospital, said medical experts where concerned about the large numbers of unvaccinated residents, who are more likely to require hospital treatment than those who have had the jab or antibodies from previous infection.
He said with the exception of border closures, Queensland has largely been unaffected by the Covid pandemic that has decimated other states and countries and there had been no urgency to get vaccinated.
Queenslanders have been largely unaffected by the Covid pandemic raging through other parts of the world (pictured: a Brisbane vaccine hub in September)
‘On the Gold Coast for example we have not had a single death from COVID-19, and elsewhere in Queensland the numbers are incredibly small,’ Dr Gerrard said.
But he added that the border can’t remained closed indefinitely and warned Queenslanders that Covid would very soon hit the state whether they were prepared or not.
‘On the Gold Coast… we are projecting perhaps between 4000 and 16,000 symptomatic cases in the first wave,’ he told A Current Affair.
He said he hoped many cases, while serious enough to be symptomatic, could be treated without visiting hospital.
But there was still concerned hospital, already pushed to their limits would be stretched to capacity by Covid which would affected the care of other patients.
‘We know that it’s the vaccine-hesitant, the people who aren’t getting vaccinated now, who will have a big impact on other people who are trying to access hospital services in the coming weeks and months,’ Dr Gerrard said.
Dr John Gerrard (pictured), the head of infectious diseases at Gold Coast University Hospital, said Covid would soon hit the state whether people were prepared or not
Dr Gerrard said in his experience there were ‘two groups’ among the unvaccinated – conspiracy theorists and the vaccine hesitant.
‘The complete ratbags who believe in conspiracy theories and… I just don’t know what to do about them,’ Dr Gerrard said.
‘The other group… have tied themselves in knots reading everything they can… until they’ve got confused and they don’t know how to interpret the information.’
While initially sympathetic towards this group, Dr Gerrard said at this point with the borders soon to open, this group could become a burden on the hospital system if they continue to hesitate.
He said Queenslanders were starting to get vaccinated in greater numbers and rushing off the complacency their isolation had afforded them.
Queensland is at 72.8 per cent of the population having received a first vaccine dose and 57.5 per cent of people having had two vaccine doses.
He explained if the state can get to herd immunity via high vaccination rates and despite having had very few cases, it would have achieved something that would be the envy of much of the world.
‘We will have pulled a rabbit out of a hat,’ he said.
The Queensland border will open to Victoria and NSW from November for the fully-vaccinated (pictured: a border checkpoint in September)
WHAT HAPPENS ON QUEENSLAND’S THRESHOLD DATES?
On estimated date of November 19, when 70 per cent full vaccination mark is reached: Anyone who has been in a declared hotspot in the previous 14 days can travel into Queensland provided they are fully vaccinated, arrive by air, have a negative Covid test in the previous 72 hours.
Travellers must undertake home quarantine for 14 days.
Direct international arrivals into Queensland will have to complete 14 days quarantine in a Government-nominated facility.
International arrivals who arrive via another state or territory will have to quarantine at a Government-nominated facility for 14 days.
On estimated date of December 17, when 80 per cent full vaccination mark is reached: Travellers from an interstate hotspot can arrive by road or air.
They must be fully vaccinated and have a negative Covid test result. Quarantine will no longer be required for interstate visitors.
Direct international arrivals can undertake 14 days home quarantine.