Qld Covid-19: Dr John Gerrard revealed as Dr Jeannette Young’s CHO replacement

James HallNCA NewsWire
Not Supplied
Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Queensland’s much-loved former top doctor Jeannette Young has finally been replaced.

Infectious disease clinician John Gerrard will take over as the state’s chief health officer from mid-December after the health department’s first choice sensationally withdrew hours before he was expected to ascend to the role.

In November, the government’s highly celebrated promotion of Dr Young to governor and the changing of the guard of top doctor was thrown into chaos when Dr Krispin Hajkowicz excluded himself due to personal reasons.

The glitzy swearing in of Dr Young, complete with a vice regal salute and a heavily escorted journey to her new digs at Government House, went ahead amid fears the department would be left without stewardship as the threat of a Covid outbreak rose.

Health authorities have consistently warned of the expected rise in cases as states ease border restrictions and Queensland plots its opening at 80 per cent vaccine coverage, which could occur as soon as December 6.

Camera IconThe not-so-modest swearing in of Dr Young. NewsWire / Sarah Marshall Credit: News Corp Australia

But the state has so far managed to squash repeated threats and the highly respected Dr Gerrard will assume responsibility of the pandemic.

He is the director of infectious diseases at the Gold Coast University Hospital with more than 30 years’ experience, which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described as crucial.

“As we enter this new stage of the pandemic it is vital to have someone of Dr Gerrard’s high standing as our chief health officer,” she said.

“He was instrumental in dealing with the Covid virus outbreak on the Diamond Princess, which was off the coast of Tokyo.”

Camera IconDr Gerrard will take over as chief health officer next month. Nigel Hallett Credit: News Corp Australia

Dr Gerrard said the promotion was a “profound honour” and he reinforced the importance of vaccine rates climbing higher.

“Queenslanders have had their opportunity to get vaccinated and now, as we move forward, things will change, and during the course of the next few months it is likely the virus will be introduced into Queensland,” he told reporters on Monday.

“We don’t know when it will arrive, we don’t know how many cases we will see and we don’t know when it will start, but we do know it will be coming here sometime in the next 12 months.”

The respected clinician said soaring Covid cases would test the state’s health sector but insisted he was hopeful higher vaccination numbers would limit widespread infection and death.

“We’re going to reach at least 90 per cent and every per cent we get above 90 per cent will make it just a little bit easier for the health services to cope,” Dr Gerrard said.

“No hospital in the world functions with empty beds and doctors and nurses doing nothing, so large numbers of cases will always put a strain on any health service in the world.

“But the secret is to get high vaccination rates before the virus is introduced into Queensland and that is what we are achieving.

“We are well prepared to deal with the pandemic when it arrives.”

Originally published as Qld Covid-19: Dr John Gerrard revealed as Dr Jeannette Young’s CHO replacement

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