PARISHES in Brisbane archdiocese’s south metro area have reopened their doors for Masses after the Queensland Government announced no community transmission had occurred following a coronavirus scare involving two teenagers travelling up from Victoria two weeks ago.
Queensland shut its borders last Saturday and has only recorded one new case from a returned overseas traveller since, as of time of writing.
But good news in Queensland has been the exception to this week’s COVID-19 numbers.
Australia passed another grim milestone after the national COVID-19 death tolls hit 313 last Tuesday.
Australian Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said it was an “agonising” day.
“Only 10 days ago the number of people who died passed 200 and now it’s passed 300,” he said.
New South Wales recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases in four months.
The state recorded 22 new cases last Tuesday.
Victoria’s daily case numbers, still in the 300s, have been falling but with increased deaths.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced 19 people died last Tuesday, marking Australia’s deadliest day in the pandemic so far.
Health care workers were concerned about a growing shortage of masks.
Catholic hospitals have called on retailers and wholesalers to stop selling hospital-grade masks to the public as finite stocks of N95 masks came under pressure.
“These masks are on sale in Chemist Warehouse and Office Warehouse but hospitals across the country are scrambling to access these life-saving masks,” CHA health policy director James Kemp said. “There is real pressure on the supply of these masks.
“Some hospitals in Victoria are reaching out to health providers in less affected states to ask if they can access their stocks of N95 masks.”
A P2/N95 mask removes around 95 per cent of all particles that are at least 0.3 microns in diameter – and were essential in the fight against COVID which has claimed the lives of thousands of hospital staff around the world.
CHA supported the public wearing masks but that N95 masks were not necessary.
Mr Kemp said there were other masks that could protect the public. “COVID-19 cases are rising all over the country and we have to make sure our frontline staff are protected,” he said.
“We warned that stocks of PPE equipment were critically low at the start of the pandemic and that we needed to be able to access the nation’s stockpile.
“Now, when our hospital staff need it the most – when they are dealing with a surge of COVID-19 infected patients – they are worried how they will get through the next couple of months, let alone the next year.”
Australia’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has started to receive submissions on industry responses to the pandemic.
Senior counsel Peter Rozen QC said the sector was “underprepared” to deal with COVID-19.
Mr Rozen told the hearing that the problems stemmed from the fact that the health systems were run by the state governments while aged care was managed by the Commonwealth.
“We surely have no hope of fighting COVID-19 and protecting the residents in our nursing homes if the various levels of governments are not working together,” he said.