The concerns of local health authorities and providers about the establishment of a quarantine hub at Wellcamp and what would happen in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak have been put to State and Federal Governments by Mayor Paul Antonio.

Cr Antonio convened a meeting of leaders from the state health services, major private hospitals, and the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise earlier this month to discuss impacts of the facility if it were to be approved.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s office is so far the only entity to respond to Cr Antonio’s letter, which was also sent to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

He said it was vital the region’s limited health resources were understood, as well as what impact the operation of a quarantine facility would have on those resources.

“All parties were concerned about our region’s ability to manage any outbreaks such as those we are seeing currently arising from hotel quarantine in major cities,” he wrote.

Cr Antonio said he believed the Wagner’s proposal to build a 1000 room quarantine facility for returning travellers at Wellcamp had merit, but said it was also critical he convey the concerns of the health providers and the general public.

Health sector concerns outlined in the letter include how the region’s health services would deal with an influx of COVID-19 positive patients, how an outbreak would be managed from a health point of view, and what steps would be taken to mitigate an outbreak.

The Premier’s Office has responded to Cr Antonio, saying they would take on-board the concerns he had raised.

Since the meeting, the Premier said positive COVID-19 quarantine cases would be ferried to Brisbane via ambulance.

But other issues raised in the letter are yet to be publicly addressed.

There were several concerns around resources – such as how the “already-stretched” Toowoomba Hospital staff would be able to rollout a vaccine to 90,000 people, and how Darling Downs Health would cope with surges in COVID-19 testing off the back of potential outbreaks.

The letter said Darling Downs Health was inundated with calls for mental health assistance when Toowoomba last operated border quarantine hotels, and “there are not enough mental health resources locally to deal with up to 1000 people in quarantine”.

The letter also said QAS were concerned about their resources for transferring COVID-19 patients to Brisbane and ICU.

Other issues raised the risk of breaches and how businesses would be impacted.

A spokeswoman for the Premier said the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had been working “productively” with the Premier’s Office to progress the “joint project”.

“A regional quarantine facility in Queensland will only work if it is a genuine partnership, where the detailed assessment is jointly developed,” she said.

Originally published as Mayor puts health services’ hub concerns put to State, Federal Governments