Qld settings right for Omicron: deputy CHO

Queensland Deputy CHO Peter Aitken says the state has enough restrictions to guard against Omicron.
Queensland Deputy CHO Peter Aitken says the state has enough restrictions to guard against Omicron.

Queensland authorities have urged people not to panic about the Omicron variant of COVID-19, saying the current restrictions are adequate to protect the population.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Peter Aitken says all international arrivals are already going into hotel quarantine and domestic arrivals from states with open international borders are going into home quarantine.

He says there's no evidence the new strain is in Australia, but it's emergence in South Africa, where vaccination coverage is low, shows the importance of getting the jab.

"If you haven't been vaccinated yet, please come forward, get vaccinated, it's never too late," Dr Aitken told reporters on Saturday morning.

"And we say that from the situation in South Africa, South Africa also has a different vaccination rate, they're running at 24-25 per cent double vaccination.

"Queensland is higher than that, and we can go higher still, so please get vaccinated."

The deputy CHO said there's still not enough detail known about Omicron, such as its transmissibility, the clinical impacts and how effective the vaccine was against it.

It was also unclear whether the South Africa cases were vaccinated or not, he said, or whether they had comorbidities like HIV.

Dr Aitken said chief health officers had discussed the variant at an Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on Friday afternoon.

The nation's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy held talks with his UK counterpart about Omicron overnight, and another AHPPC meeting is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

"It's too early - we need to get more information before we act," the deputy CHO said.

"At this stage, there's nothing to suggest there's any risk to change that position."

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner brushed off concerns about a loophole in the Queensland check-in app that would allow unvaccinated people to upload another person's vaccine certificate to their own profile.

The loophole exists so people can add dependants and family members to their own devices when checking in.

Mr Furner said the Queensland app is the same as many other states and he warned that unvaccinated people who exploit the loophole would be committing fraud.

"So you could end up in situation where (you're) going to jail, getting fined up to $13,000," he said.

"So the best thing to do is follow the the rules, laws, and that won't be an issue for you in the future."

Queensland recorded one new case of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine on Saturday, linked to three unvaccinated people who tested positive in hotel quarantine after arriving from Victoria on Saturday.

Australian Associated Press