State spends $12.6m on pandemic, disaster prepping warehouse
Townsville's PPE stores will increase seven fold as part of a $12.6m investment from the Queensland government.
The Queensland Health personal protection equipment warehouse will be moved to a larger site, which will serve as the distribution point for health workers in North Queensland and the surrounding regions.
The state's PPE supply dwindled to just four days worth of stock at the height of the pandemic, with healthcare professionals sparing equipment where they could while elective surgeries were canned for months.
But the state government vowed to make sure that would never happen again, increasing the Queensland Health Townsville warehouse capacity from 880 pallets of stock to 6798 pallets.
The Cairns warehouse will also increase from 750 sqm to 3120 sqm, which will allow the warehouse to store 790 pallets of stock.
The government will also invest $7m per year in the operation of Townsville's PPE warehouse, which will secure jobs into the future.
Additional distribution centres and hubs have already been announced in Brisbane and Rockhampton.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles made the announcement in Townsville, saying it was not just the pandemic this would help the region prepare for.
"In Queensland we regularly experience fires, floods and cyclones and they have all in the past had an impact on our hospital supply chain," Mr Miles said.
"This new critical supply reserve will mean that those disasters will never impact on the amount of supplies available in regions like this.
"Our goal is to have six to 12 months supply of all our equipment. Right now, we have 350 days supply for surgical masks … 290 days of medical gowns, 200 days supply for gloves and 190 days supply of P2 masks, giving us one of the biggest stockpiles of its kind in the world."
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said with the proposed La Nina weather event primed to cause wild weather in North Queensland, having this stockpile was incredibly important.
"There is possibilities of flooding on the highways and possible cyclones, Townsville is perfectly located geographically to supply both to the north to the south and of course, out to the west, we have the distribution and the transport network now that will actually be able to supply those particular regions and make sure that we get those critical supplies out to those necessary areas," Mr Stewart said.
The state government has also introduced a new policy to source 25 per cent of its PPE locally so it no longer replies so heavily on cities like Wuhan, where the pandemic began, for surgical masks.
Manufacturing Minister Glen Butcher said this would mean more Queensland companies get a bigger "slice of the pie".
"I would love to come back here in the next few years and see Queensland products on the shelves of the distribution centres, looking after our frontline staff in Queensland," Mr Butcher said.
"This is super critical for our manufacturers here in Queensland that we now have the opportunity to do this work to get these products on the shelves."
Originally published as State spends $12.6m on pandemic, disaster prepping