Cairns Hospital braces for severe COVID-19 cases
THERE has been no one critically ill from COVID-19 in the Far North, but health officials are bracing for the region's first severe cases.
So far, the region has had 24 diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus.
Queensland's chief medical officer, Dr Jeannette Young, told reporters in Cairns this morning that despite all confirmed coronavirus cases currently being well-managed in the Far North, there would still be cases ending up in Cairns Hospital's intensive care unit.
"We know that will happen, because we know that there's a certain percentage of patients, particularly in the more vulnerable categories, who will need the ICU," she said.
"But we have fantastic ICU here, and I have worked with them as long ago as the pandemic for H1N1 - the swine flu, and they did a fantastic job.
"A lot of the same staff are still here."
She said there were "very early signs there might be some community transmission" in Cairns after Queensland Health issued a public health alert for an Edmonton PCYC event, which was attended by three people with the virus.
Health Minister Steven Miles, who joined Dr Young in Cairns this morning, said his visit north was to meet with key clinicians and executives to determine what more could be done to contain COVID-19.
"Every one of our Hospital and Health Services has a comprehensive plan in place but pandemics, by their very nature, are unpredictable and apt to change rapidly," he said.
"So it's critical they have our full support."
While the Cairns and Hinterland health district still has the highest tally for the infectious disease outside the southeast of the state, the amount of cases has not risen in 48 hours.
All of the confirmed cases are within Cairns Regional, Douglas Shire, Tablelands Regional, and Mareeba Shire council areas.
No cases have been identified yet in the Cape or Torres Strait region, nor on the Cassowary Coast.
Overall, there are 853 cases of COVID-19 statewide, and four patient deaths, all in the state's southeast.
The latest death was an 85-year-old man, who died overnight at Toowoomba Hospital.