Where electronic COVID sign-ins won’t be enforced
Hospitals will not be forced to adopt an electronic COVID-19 sign-in system despite Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk telling businesses on the weekend to get 'their house in order' with 72 hours to remove their paper logbooks.
The State Government has urged businesses such as pubs, clubs and restaurants to move to the system, which would ensure more effective contact tracing for the virus, after Queensland Health struggled to track several customers with illegible handwriting who visited The Glen Hotel.
Authorities will conduct compliance checks on businesses this week to ensure venues have moved to electronic records, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said.
But hospitals in Brisbane and Townsville, home to some of the state's most at risk, are still using the paper sign-in system, or not enforcing it at all, the Nurses Professional Association Queensland says, raising concerns over contact tracing capabilities.
Queensland Health says its focus however remains on the hospitality industry as one of the highest risk sectors.
The department said it will in coming weeks consider the check-in procedures used by other business sectors.
"For the moment, however, our absolute focus is on venues where larger crowds of people gather and mingle for longer periods of time, two factors that significantly raise the risk of infection," a spokesman said.
Ms D'Ath on Monday said businesses needed the QR code system or another electronic format, to ensure Queensland Health could access data of any person on any given day instantly.
She said penalties could be put in place for people who give false names and details preventing vital COVID contact tracing.
"We want to be flexible but what we are absolutely intending to do is move away from a paper based system where Queensland Health are provided with paper sheets with illegible writing and names," she said.
NPAQ state secretary Aenghas Hopkinson-Pearson said nurses across the state were seeing people "freely come and go" in hospitals such as Prince Charles and Townsville, with no enforcement of sign-in, whether its paper or electronic based.
"If it's not happening in two of the largest hospitals in the state, then it certainly wouldn't be happening rurally you'd think," he said.
Mater Health Services Director of Infectious Diseases Dr Paul Griffin said the private hospital had been using a QR code system for some time but also kept paper records as a backup.
He said hospitals differentiated from hotel and restaurant type venues because there was a higher level of infection prevention and control.
"I do really think we need to be looking at better IT solutions that can do some of these things a little more automatically and with greater accuracy," he said.
"We do have a paper backup if required but I really doubt there have been significant instances where that's not been filled out well because we have staff manning those positions to monitor that."
A Queensland Health spokesman said all health facilities already have good check-processes, including assessing visitors for symptoms and determining if they need to be isolated.
"We are in contact with our health services to make sure they continue to have thorough COVID-19 prevention measures in place."
Originally published as Where electronic COVID sign-ins won't be enforced