Queensland has been dealt a major curve ball as it prepares to handle a soaring Covid-19 caseload.
The ascension of Queensland’s top doctor Jeannette Young to the lofty position of governor has been overshadowed by the shock withdrawal of the chief health officer’s replacement.
Dr Krispin Hajkowicz was due to take the reins for the crucial role on Monday as the state prepares for soaring Covid-19 cases when border restrictions ease before Christmas.
But the highly decorated infectious disease clinician will no longer be promoted to the position due to “personal reason”, according to Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.
In a brief release published on Thursday afternoon, the Health Minister said she “respected Dr Hajkowicz’s decision and his request for privacy”.
Dr Hajkowicz was unveiled as the top doctor’s replacement earlier this month to resounding fanfare, with Dr Young declaring his expertise critical to handling the next phase of the pandemic when hospitals are expected to be flooded with infections.
“He has been the lead in the treatment and management of Covid cases and it is not an accident that Queensland has had seven deaths out of our 2048 cases so far,” she said at the time.
“We’re coming out of the phase of the pandemic which was all about stopping the virus coming into Queensland.
“Now we’re getting to the point where we won’t be able to maintain that — the virus will come in no matter what we do, we need to have the health system prepared.”
The announcement has delivered a curve ball for senior bureaucrats and health authorities, with Queensland parliament staff busy preparing for the grand swearing in of Dr Young as governor on Monday.
Deputy chief health over Peter Aitken will act in the role until a permanent replacement is appointed.