Queensland flu death toll hits 66


QUEENSLAND'S flu death toll has risen to at least 66.

That's more than 50 per cent higher than the 43 flu-related deaths recorded for the whole of 2018.

Health Minister Steven Miles will release the latest flu figures today showing the number of laboratory confirmed cases of the virus had almost reached 29,000.

He said this year's diagnosed flu cases were more than three times higher than those at the same time in 2017, the worst flu year on record.

"Too many Queenslanders are already dead," Mr Miles said.

"The season is yet to peak so we have to do more. All year we've been vocal about the need for Queenslanders to take precautions, including getting the flu shot, but we're also doing a lot in our hospitals to protect the public.

"We're equipping our clinicians and scientists with more tools and technology to help manage outbreaks and other viruses more effectively."

Mr Miles will announce almost $2 million in funding today, including money to improve flu testing in three key regions.

The investment will fund three rapid point-of-care testing instruments for Pathology Queensland laboratories in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns.

Health Support Queensland's chief executive officer Peter Bristow said the testing was considered the gold standard for diagnosing respiratory viral infections.

"It is efficient, accurate and will assist our surveillance and response efforts greatly, enabling us to identify which strains are circulating, where the outbreaks are and where resources need to be diverted," Dr Bristow said.

"Flu can lead to very serious complications for many people but the earlier it is detected, the quicker we can provide appropriate treatment."

Mr Miles said the money would also fund genomic sequencing equipment to assist scientists in better characterising flu strains in Queensland and help them understand the reasons behind the unusual 2019 flu season.

Health Services Queensland has received additional funding for more nurses to support the 13 HEALTH service during the peak inquiry period until September 30.

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