Coronavirus QLD: 14 new cases take state total to 921


QUEENSLAND has recorded 14 new coronavirus cases overnight, taking the total number of cases across the state to 921.

Health Minister Steven Miles congratulated Queenslanders for the low number of new cases.

"The ongoing reduction in the number of positive cases shows what we are doing is working," he said. "We are slowing the spread.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said COVID-19 testing would be expanded to the general population on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Cairns.

Dr Young said there were 32 Queenslanders diagnosed with the virus who authorities did not know where they had picked it up from.

She said they were spread across those three areas where testing will now be expanded to anyone with symptoms of the deadly virus.

"We'll be doing that additional testing to get a picture of whether there is community spread in any of those places," Dr Young said.

"At this stage I don't think we need to expand the testing outside those areas."

Dr Young said it was a pre-emptive measure ahead of any sustained community transmission.

Meanwhile, Dr Miles has confirmed a $17.5 million promise to health workers to put them up in hotels to protect their families.

The new offer, revealed by The Courier-Mail, will allow health workers on the frontline of the pandemic to stay in hotels close to work.

Dr Miles earlier said the state appeared to be achieving a "dramatic reduction" in new coronavirus cases but that the crisis is far from over.

He heaped praise on responsible Queenslanders who've been following orders to stay at home to prevent the kind of mass deaths seen in Europe.

But he's disgusted too with a minority of people, including at least 58 people who were hit with hefty fines after attending an illegal and chaotic car rally in a Brisbane warehouse car park on Saturday night.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD

As the Easter weekend looms, Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said people should not be driving to holiday homes, even if they owned them.

Ms Carroll said that was not essential travel and people had already been fined for being out and about at the weekend without a reasonable reason.

"Technically if it's non-essential travel, you're not compliant," she said.

"On the weekend, we have fined people for blatantly going out and about, having a ride.

"I think we have been patient, we have communicated with people, we have been compassionate.

"We've seen people blatantly drive around our barricades (at state borders) ... so can I please ask while we go into what is usually a very busy weekend can we please comply with the rules."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said most people were doing the right thing.

"What we don't want to see is mass movements of people to other parts of the state," she said.

"It's not the time to pack up and take your family to the beach for a holiday," she said.

Mr Miles has warned the crisis is far from over but says "it's also good for people to see the progress of their own efforts".

There have been some shocking instances, though, of people blatantly ignoring rules that will save lives.

Police screen incoming passengers at the domestic airport in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Police screen incoming passengers at the domestic airport in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

On Saturday night, police raced to break up a rally involving 150 cars in a Rochedale warehouse car park.

Drivers and passengers scattered, with some becoming bogged when they fled across local grasslands.

Police issued 58 people with coronavirus infringement fines worth a total of $77,000, but many others who defied the ban on mass gatherings got away. Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said it was an "outrageous" and "chaotic" event, not only because of the traffic offences being committed but because of the public health risk.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Nurses Union has received complaints about some of its members being abused in public while wearing their uniforms. Secretary Beth Mohle says she's gobsmacked and people should remember that nurses are going to work to treat everyone, not just coronavirus patients. "It's just totally unacceptable. This just isn't on," she told the ABC on Monday, saying the union has scheduled talks on the issue with Queensland Health.

A 78-year-old man became the fifth person to die in Queensland on Sunday. He contracted coronavirus while travelling on the ill-fated Ruby Princess cruise ship.

An outbreak on the ship has been linked to 622 infections and at least 11 deaths across Australia, including three in Queensland.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said the fifth death in Queensland starkly demonstrates what is at stake, and why everyone must comply with tough movement restrictions.

Originally published as Testing expanded to gauge community transmission