Fewer people are turning up to Queensland hospitals for sporting or car crash injuries but paramedics are getting more mental health related calls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health officials are now holding their breath to see whether allowing people to venture outside their homes will drive a wave of new diagnoses for the virus.
“We have seen reduced presentations for things like road trauma and sporting injuries, that’s been in part offset by an increase in mental health presentations,” Health Minister Steven Miles said on May 2.
“Our ambulance service has seen a 12 to 15 percent increase in mental health related calls – anxiety depression, suicidal ideation, that kind of thing.”
Saturday is the first day of an experiment in easing some restrictions on people’s everyday lives.
It will take two weeks before officials know whether they can successfully juggle suppressing the virus while allowing people to move around a little more freely.
“If we don’t mess this up, we’ll be able to get more of our freedoms back,” Miles added.
Non-essential travel is allowed but there are still limits.
People are limited to spending time with members of their own family while those who are single can spend time with one other person.
Picnics, hikes and shopping for clothing and shoes are permitted, however, all Queenslanders must stay within 50 kilometres of their home.
“This is a test run,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a pre-recorded video message on Twitter on Saturday.
“How well we do this weekend determines what else we can do in the future.
I know it’s been hard, I know you’re sick of it. Who isn’t. Keep up the good work and have a great weekend.”
There were 63 active cases of the virus remaining on Saturday.
10 patients are being treated for COVID-19 in hospital, with four of those in intensive care.
One new diagnoses of COVID-19 was confirmed overnight, with the state having carried out 113,601 tests.
Just nine people have returned a positive test result in the past week, while the statewide tally remains at 1034.
By Shae McDonald