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‘They are scared’: Vulnerable town on tenterhooks over outbreak

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Cases in the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire rose to three yesterday, spurring residents to voluntarily adopt measures to reduce the spread.Mayor Elvie Sandow said the community northwest of Brisbane was “scared” and “trying to get their head around it” as people rushed to get tested, donned face masks and incorporated social distancing.“The first case we had was a lady who is actually double vaccinated so she’s not very sick at all and she’s isolating,” the Mayor said.Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had previously said lockdowns would be imposed on communities with low vaccination rates but health authorities declared residents in Cherbourg would not be ordered into home isolation despite only 57.9 per cent having received both jabs, according to December 22 figures.“We need to keep moving on, we need to move on because we are not going to stop the Omicron virus,” Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said yesterday.The top doctor said lockdowns were not the “right thing for us as a government to be doing”.“It will depend on what the local community wants to do but we do not want to impose lockdowns on communities.”With the responsibility to enforce the stay-at-home directions falling on local government, Mayor Sandow said she would not be imposing a lockdown.“I wouldn’t like to because it wouldn’t help with our peoples’ mental health,” she told The Courier-Mail.“It’s up to us as individual mayors and councillors and (Dr Gerrard) is doing that because he knows that we know what is best for our community.“When we had a lockdown back in March last year, it wasn’t very good at all for our community and our suicide rate was up.”Queensland’s double vaccination rate is edging slowly towards 90 per cent but fears remain for remote Indigenous communities where jab coverage is low.Eleven new infections were revealed on Thursday Island while a temporary morgue was spotted arriving on Palm Island, which is a 20-minute flight from Townsville in the state’s far north.Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Mislam Sam described the grim arrival as the “starkest reminder yet that locals are a serious risk of illness and death from Covid”.



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