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‘Enormous toll’: Queensland refuses to budge on strict funeral stance

The Queensland government is refusing to budge on its strict rules about attending funerals, with the chief health officer saying the risk of COVID-19 spread is too high.Pressure has mounted on the government after it refused to allow a grieving daughter to leave quarantine to attend her father’s funeral.Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young said…

The Queensland government is refusing to budge on its strict rules about attending funerals, with the chief health officer saying the risk of COVID-19 spread is too high.

Pressure has mounted on the government after it refused to allow a grieving daughter to leave quarantine to attend her father’s funeral.

Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young said there had already been several coronavirus clusters related to funerals in Sydney and she did not want to see that happen in Queensland.

“I understand the enormous toll this is taking on people who are coming here to Queensland to attend a funeral of a loved one, whether that be a relative or a friend,” she told reporters on Thursday.

“They can’t do that until they’ve been in quarantine for 14 days.”

Sarah Caisip, 26, remains in quarantine after she travelled from Canberra to spend time with her father during his final days, but he died before she could see him.

Ms Caisip was denied permission to attend his funeral and instead offered a police escort to see his body privately.

Dr Young said she would not comment on any individual cases.

“I’m not going to cause even more heartache to someone to have their private information discussed publicly,” she said.

Although Canberra has not had any cases in some time, Dr Young said it was still defined as a hotspot because there were cases in nearby NSW.

Dr Young said the last thing she wanted was an outbreak at a funeral where there was likely to be older people in attendance.

“They’re a very, very risky environment for spread of the virus because of the nature of the service and what happens,” she said.

“We’ve now had several outbreaks in aged care facilities in Queensland that we’ve been able to control.

“I don’t want to see Queenslanders dying from COVID-19 that I could have prevented.”

People can have a private farewell at a funeral home if it can be arranged and Dr Young said that had already happened in some cases.

A team of 80 people are continuing to work on thousands of exemption requests, she added.

Meanwhile, the state recorded no new cases of coronavirus overnight.

Dr Young said the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre cluster appeared to be “well and truly in hand”.

“We’re not out of the risk period yet, but we are doing much better than I thought we would when I was first notified of this cluster,” she said.

“We should be able to declare it over in the next few days.”

Dr Young said the other clusters were also being managed well.

More than one million tests have been conducted in Queensland during the eight months of the pandemic.

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