Townsville Bulletin

Case sparks warning to get jabbed

- CAITLAN CHARLES

TOWNSVILLE’S latest Covid-19 scare is a wake-up call the community needed to get its act together and get vaccinated.

The city’s vaccinatio­n numbers have plateaued, with just a 3 per cent increase in first jabs last week.

While Townsville is expected to hit 50 per cent fully vaccinated next week, the city is falling behind the rest of the state.

Currently, 62.7 per cent of Townsville’s eligible population have received one dose, with 47.3 fully vaccinated.

Now, with revelation­s a man who tested positive in the city on Thursday had been in the community for eight days, medical profession­als are urging people not to put off the jab any longer.

The positive case came as a surprise to chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young, who said in the Covid-19 update on Thursday it was “left of field”.

She urged people to come forward and get vaccinated because there was no time to wait if Queensland was to be 80 per cent vaccinated by Christmas.

Townsville GP Dr Michael Clements said health profession­als had been predicting a case to crop up in Townsville.

“You have to wonder – would we be locked down if there wasn’t a rugby league grand final on the weekend?” he said.

In response, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said with tighter restrictio­ns, increased vaccinatio­n rates and people checking in, there was no need to lock down just yet.

“Let me make it very clear that the health of Queensland­ers comes first and as soon as Dr Young says we need to move into lockdown, we will,” she said.

But Dr Clements said Townsville had one of the worst vaccinatio­n rates in the state, and Queensland was one of the worst in the country.

“You can’t take too much comfort from our current vaccinatio­n rate,” he said.

The GP said an outbreak in Townsville was not a matter of if, but when.

“Whether it starts today, or after Christmas, we will find out. It’s going to happen,” Dr Clements said.

He said health profession­als on the ground were waiting to see if this case would be the trigger for a wider spread of the virus, like in Victoria or New

South Wales. The chief health officer has said evidence of cases being spread in the community, from person to person, could spark the lockdown.

“What I’m really hoping … is this is another warning shot and that this really does motivate people to go and get the vaccinatio­n,” Dr Clements said.

“When we see there are over 90 per cent (of people) in NSW and Victoria vaccinated … and living with Covid-19 around them … we know that Townsville can achieve the same thing.”

But Dr Clements said there were still tens of thousands of Townsville locals who had not got around to getting vaccinated.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service acting chief medical officer Niall Small said anyone who expected Covid-19 not to spread was “living in la-la land”. He said if people needed a reminder of why they should get vaccinated, Thursday was it.

The THHS-RUN Community Vaccinatio­n Centre in Hyde Park will be open every day of the long weekend.

The hub was supposed to be closed on Saturday, but will now be open.

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