‘Essentially essential’ staff return to work as close contact rules ease

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“We know close contacts are also caring for other loved ones in the household, including HIV-positive children, and may not always be able to return during this time,” she said.

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“So we want it to be very consultative between employer and employee.”

Ms. D’Ath said the state would seek to move away from the federal government’s preferred position to adopt a daily testing schedule for returning workers once rapid testing supplies increase.

“With the ability to be able to get those workers back into the workplace, comes the responsibility, and that’s doing everything possible to minimize risk,” Ms D’Ath said.

Queensland announced in early January close contact isolation changes for its essential workforce, including those in emergency services, health, utilities, essential retail and healthcare workers. distribution.

The national cabinet has since agreed similar arrangements, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week there was no medical advice to support daily testing of workers except in certain high-risk settings.

Chris Owen, the chairman of the Queensland branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, issued a warning alongside Ms D’Ath that while the Commonwealth scheme to provide 10 free rapid tests to concession card holders will begin on Monday, sites were still waiting for supplies to arrive.

He said his pharmacy had been out of stock since December 28 and was receiving up to 300 calls a day – affecting day-to-day operations – from people trying to locate the kits.

“We expect supply to improve over the next fortnight, and there will be plenty in February,” he said.

Queensland’s Omicron peak is expected to hit regions at different times in early February, with the Gold Coast likely to hit that point this week.

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