Queensland has resumed looking for a new chief health officer as it transitions into a phase of living with the coronavirus after the doctor due to start Monday turned the position down.
The government said in a brief statement that Dr Krispin Hajkowicz would no longer be taking on the top public health adviser role, for “personal reasons”, and had requested privacy.
It comes as Jeannette Young, who resigned as chief health officer on Sunday, was due to be sworn in as Queensland Governor on Monday.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said on Friday that Hajkowicz’s decision was “unexpected”.
“We are very well served by our Deputy CHOs, as well as the very substantial team around them,” Miles said.
Deputy chief health officer Peter Aitken will act in the role and the state has appointed further deputy support positions until a permanent replacement is found.
Dr Peter Aitken, Dr Lynne McKinlay and Dr James Smith in recent months took on deputy chief health officers roles to support the transition.
“I think what it will do is really justify the decision we made to have multiple deputy chief health officers,” Miles said.
“There’s massive teams behind them now and so there’s plenty of people who know the systems, know-how to provide the advice, make it all work, so I think it’ll be fine.”
Queensland’s border is due to open just before Christmas for vaccinated people, when the state is expected to have 80% of its population over 16 fully vaccinated.
Although from November 19, fully vaccinated people flying into the state and undertaking 14 days home quarantine will be able to enter if they receive a negative test result 72 hours beforehand.
Meanwhile, a $180 million package will support GPs to treat COVID-19 patients at home.
The doctors will receive a $25 bonus from Medicare for treating a COVID-positive or suspected COVID-positive patient in the clinic face-to-face, health minister Greg Hunt said.
“There’s a bonus to them for seeing patients face to face and recognising the additional costs of cleaning and of other items,” Hunt said.
The government is also using some of the money to buy pulse oximeters, which give an oxygen reading that can show when a patient is starting to deteriorate.
Further support for nurses to do home visits, and general practice respiratory clinics to continue operating are also included in the package.
“If you are at home, COVID positive, you’ll continue to have your medicines provided, and you may not need to have your scripts extended through an additional visit to the doctor. You can have them extended as of right in such a circumstance,” Hunt said.