Queensland to ease social distancing restrictions

From next weekend, Queenslanders will be allowed to go on picnics, bushwalks, go shopping more freely and take a leisurely drive or go boating from next weekend.

But the Premier also gave them a crucial warning: this is a “test run”. A trial. If those numbers don’t stay down, the strict measures can be re-implemented at a moment’s notice.

“The first sign of a spike we will not hesitate to clamp back,” she said. “This is a test run to see what effect easing restrictions has on the containment of COVID-19.

“I encourage all Queenslanders to back this first step so that we can keep the virus away and help everyone start to get their lives back.”

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RELATED: Warning over possible ‘second wave’ of COVID-19

Shopping at Queen St Mall in Brisbane could return with the easing of restrictions. Picture: Steve PohlnerSource:News Corp Australia

Just three new cases of coronavirus were recorded in Queensland overnight, taking the state’s total to 1030 cases.

The Premier’s announcement has been hailed as great news for the state, with Queenslanders welcoming the shift towards more freedom and revamping the economy.

But some also fear a “second wave” of COVID-19 could strike if we ease up too soon.

This “second wave” has been seen in several countries that were initially lauded for their handling of the virus.

Take Singapore. When COVID-19 first broke out, the city-state was held up as a model to the world for how to beat it.

“Singapore is leaving no stone unturned, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said back in February.

But just in the last two weeks, Singapore has jumped by over 10,000 cases, from 2299 on April 11 to 12,693 yesterday.

In Japan, a similar story is unfolding. The country’ northern island of Hokkaido acted quickly and contained an early outbreak of the virus with a strict three-week lockdown.

But when the governor lifted restrictions, a second wave of infections struck even harder. Less than a month later, the island was forced back into lockdown.

Doctor Kiyoshi Nagase, chairman of the Hokkaido Medical Association, said he wished the island hadn’t eased up so soon.

“Now I regret it, we should not have lifted the first state of emergency,” he told TIME.

It’s a sobering reminder to the rest of the world – particularly relatively successful countries like Australia – that now is not the time to get complacent.

Earlier this month, The Lancet published a report called “Beware of the second wave of COVID-19”.

The study found that if countries prematurely roll back social distancing and lockdown measures then it could lead to a second round of infections.

The researchers found that a second wave of coronavirus “appears probable” if countries do not keep strict measures in place for long enough.

“The findings from our modelling impact assessment suggest that the comprehensive package of non-pharmaceutical interventions China undertook, including social distancing and population behavioural change, has substantially reduced transmissibility of COVID-19 across the country,” they wrote.

“The daily number of local COVID-19 cases has dropped substantially to nearly zero in areas outside Hubei since late February; however, a second wave of COVID-19 transmission is possible because of viral reintroduction that has been exponentially increasing since March, 2020, as well as viral transmissibility that might rebound with the gradual resumption of economic activities, and thus normal levels of social mixing.”


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