The Queensland government hopes that the opening of a new regional accommodation centre at Wellcamp will ease the pressure on hotel quarantine measures as the state deals with a surge in Omicron cases.
Unvaccinated people who have travelled to Queensland from overseas will be able to stay at the facility to meet their quarantine requirements. The centre will also be available to vulnerable or homeless people who require suitable accommodation to isolate with COVID-19.
Joanne Greenfield will oversee the operations of the centre, having accepted an appointment as the inaugural commissioner, quarantine management task force.
In a statement, minister for state development Steven Miles said Greenfield, who currently serves as the state fire and emergency services assistant commissioner, brought an extensive background in leading large-scale operations to the role.
“Joanne has been working on the quarantine program since the beginning of the pandemic [….] and [has international experience] in a range of disasters including in the health sector,” he said.
Miles said the Omicron variant continued to place pressure on Queensland’s health response.
On Thursday, an 18-year-old was among nine COVID-19 deaths recorded in the state and 16,812 positive cases were recorded in Queensland.
Queenslanders can now report their positive rapid antigen test (RAT) results here: https://t.co/yovHBjItb3
— Steven Miles (@StevenJMiles) January 8, 2022
The minister added that the hundreds of people who were already required to isolate but could not – either because they did not live in Queensland or because their accommodation was not appropriate – were expected to grow in number.
“[The] number [of people required to isolate] will likely increase through the peak of this wave and there will be an ongoing need for suitable isolation accommodation,” Miles said.
“Our strategy for Queensland’s broader COVID-19 response will continue to be informed by disease modelling and Wellcamp will be here for us when it’s needed.”
Accommodation modules for the facility’s first module, offering 500 beds, operational buildings and facilities are now complete and available for use.
Once the needs of the pandemic were no longer an issue, the minister said, the facility would continue to serve the local community and serve as an accommodation site for students, as well as construction and agricultural workers.
The Queensland government will operate the centre with a 12-month lease of the facility, with an option for an additional 12 months thereafter.
John Wagner, the chair of Wagner Corporation, said the completion of stage one of the Wellcamp project was achieved only six months after the project was announced in August last year.
“This is a significant achievement given the weather delays experienced as well as the supply chain and workforce disruptions caused by COVID,” Wagner said.