Anyone accused of coughing or spitting on a person could soon face mandatory testing for COVID-19, as the Queensland Government moves to close a loophole in its response to the pandemic.
- The Government says the laws will give victims who are spat on peace of mind
- Annastacia Palaszczuk says over 30,000 Queenslanders could have lost their lives to coronavirus
- Health Minister Steven Miles says the situation at Rockhampton nursing home is “potentially catastrophic”
Police Minister Mark Ryan will introduce a bill to Parliament today as part of the Government’s third phase of laws to help protect Queenslanders.
The bill is expected to be debated and passed by the end of the week.
Mr Ryan said health authorities believed there was a need to force offenders to undergo testing.
“It is a despicable act for a person to wilfully cough, sneeze or spit at or on another person,” he said.
“It’s hard to believe that this type of behaviour is occurring, but sadly it is happening, both here and abroad.”
Earlier this year, the Government introduced new penalties, including fines of up to $13,300 or 14 years in jail, for anyone convicted of wilfully coughing, spitting or sneezing at another person.
Mr Ryan said the new proposed laws were needed to reduce the stress experienced by victims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s disgraceful behaviour and this extended testing regime will give victims access to critical information about an offender’s COVID-19 infection status.”
Queensland ‘dodged a tsunami’: Premier
More than 1,050 people in Queensland have tested positive for the disease since the outbreak began, while six have died.
No new cases were detected today, with 12 active cases being monitored.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the relatively low number of cases detected in recent weeks was significantly better than what was originally predicted.
“That is the cold, sobering fact.
“We only need to look at the tragic toll of this insidious virus overseas in countries with advanced health systems to understand that in many ways, we have dodged a tsunami.”
More than 158,000 tests have been conducted to date — including almost 3,000 in the last day.
Health Minister Steven Miles said large outbreaks were still a significant reality, like the recent scare at a state-run nursing home in Rockhampton.
“Health heroes are responding right now to a potentially catastrophic situation in Rockhampton,” he said.
“In just a matter of days, they’ve tested hundreds of people, all thankfully negative so far.
“They are doing an incredible job of contact tracing and protecting the Rockhampton community.
“Queensland’s position and hold on the virus comes down to the hard work of each and every Queenslander.
“They listened to the health advice, they listened to the calls to stay home and they looked out for each other.”