Qld premier chides virus panic shoppers

Tracey Ferrier and Michael Doyle
Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says plane arrivals will be fined if they don't self-isolate

Calls for compassion and calm have been made by Queensland's premier in the midst of the coronavirus health crisis.

Annastacia Palaszczuk urged Queenslanders to think about others before stripping supermarkets bare of groceries.

The plea comes after the state recorded its first coronavirus fatality, a 77-year-old woman from the Sunshine Coast who died on Friday.

"There are many elderly people in our community who are now not getting food," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"We need to love thy neighbour.

"Queensland produces so much food, we produce so many different items of stock - there is no danger of that running out."

The state's confirmed total of cases has reached 68, Health Minister Steven Miles said on Monday.

He warned the government could order elderly residents to stay at home if widespread community transmission begins.

The UK is about to ask people aged 70 and over to stay home for up to four months to protect themselves.

Mr Miles says the current focus is on keeping transmission rates low, so public hospitals can provide good care to the 20 per cent of cases expected to result in serious illness.

He says the state government has already given itself extra emergency powers by declaring a public health incident of state significance.

Asked if Queensland might do as Victoria has done, and declare a state of emergency, he said the situation was fluid and under constant review.

Two of the latest Queensland cases involve Eddie Mabo's granddaughter and a prisoner advocate, who became infected after sharing a flight with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Sisters Inside advocate Deb Kilroy and indigenous activist Boneta-Marie Mabo were on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles with the minister before he found out he was infected.

Ms Kilroy was sitting two rows behind Mr Dutton. The women are now in isolation at a private home.

Ms Palaszczuk has warned of hefty financial penalties for anyone who flouts new rules that demand all people coming to Australia self-isolate for 14 days.

Penalties under the state's Public Health Emergency Act allow for fines of $13,000 if people don't do the right thing.

Queensland's Supreme and District courts have suspended all new jury trials while police have temporarily banned random breath and drug tests to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Queensland schools remain open, but the Queensland Teachers Union says absences have increased since the outbreak began as parents make up their own minds about protecting their children.

A number of the state's independent schools are closing their campuses, moving classes to online learning.

All Saints Anglican School on the Gold Coast told parents that Thursday will be their last day on campus, with students to then learn from home.

Nearby Somerset College also told parents classes would be online within 48 hours.

Meanwhile, the University of Queensland has cancelled all tutorials and lectures - in person and online - for the next week.

The university says it needs time to reset and prepare after three students tested positive for coronavirus.

About 600 other students and seven staff have been forced into self-isolation as a result of the virus.

Vice-Chancellor Peter Hoj says the university sector faces enormous losses if the virus crisis rolls on for too long.