Survey reveals true prevalence of active COVID-19 cases on the Gold Coast

Published Thursday, 03 February, 2022 at 12:55 PM


Premier and Minister for the Olympics
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

One in six Gold Coasters may have been living with COVID-19 around the peak of the pandemic wave, a randomised household survey has shown.

The Gold Coast Public Health Unit helped by medical and nursing students went door-to-door on January 22 to 117 households across Gold Coast suburbs collecting PCR tests.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the surveillance initiative, believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, delivered higher than expected results.

Results from 117 households indicated that:

  • Twenty of 117 randomly selected people tested positive for COVID-19 (about 1 in 6)
  • Only four of the 20 who tested positive reported having any symptoms (4 in 5 did not have symptoms)
  • Only two of the 20 who tested positive were already aware they were positive (1 in 10)

“Initial results indicate COVID-19 is considerably more common in the community than reported and that many people who are infectious may not be aware,” the Premier said.

“This particularly true for fully vaccinated and boosted Queenslanders, who are benefiting from the protective effects of the vaccine.

“Today’s survey shows just how important it is for all Gold Coasters to get vaccinated.

“And if you’ve had your first two doses, please get your booster.”

A follow-up survey performed on 143 random Gold Coast households one week later on January 29, showed that:

  • The rate of infection had halved to 1 in 13 (11/143)
  • Six out of the 11 who tested positive reported having symptoms
  • Only two of the 11 who tested positive were already aware they were positive

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath urged Gold Coasters to get vaccinated and to get tested as soon as they experienced symptoms.

“As we know, the true number of cases in the community is likely to be much greater than what is reported to Queensland Health due to the number of cases confirmed through at-home testing,” Ms D’Ath said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and refine our response in light of any updated data and modelling as it is released.”

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard thanked the Gold Coast Public Health Unit for undertaking the survey, led by Gold Coast Public Health Unit Medical Director Andre Wattiaux.

He also thanked medical and nursing students from Bond, Griffith and Southern Cross universities working with the team.

“We acknowledge this is a small sample size, but the rates are high enough to be reliable,” Dr Gerrard said.

“These results help shape our understanding of the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community and inform our public health response.

“This is a reminder that basic prevention measures such as vaccination, social distancing, hand hygiene and coming forward to get tested remain central to us getting through this phase of the pandemic.”


Media contact:

Jack Harbour (Premier’s office) 0419 620 447

Martin Philip (Minister’s office) 0407 675 008