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Gutwein Government’s Failed Covid Guidelines Put Aged Care Residents at Risk

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Tags: Health, Aged Care, COVID-19

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

Tasmania’s guidelines for residential aged care facilities ignores critical infection management directions needed to successfully prevent exposure by residents or staff to the airborne Covid-19 virus. 

The World Health Organisation declared Covid to be an airborne virus in May 2021, and the Victorian Department of Health also confirmed the same in February this year. The independent OzSAGE group of epidemiologists warn against incorrectly referring to Covid as principally being transmitted via contact and droplets. 
When we asked Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff about his government’s failure to adequately address the reality of Covid transmission, he refused to answer the question. 
Covid-19 is an airborne virus, and the fine aerosols produced by an infected person talking or breathing can be potentially deadly or disabling. The Gutwein Government’s aged care guidelines contain no general prescription for aged-care staff to wear masks to protect themselves and the vulnerable people they work with. 
Minister Rockliff refused to commit to updating the aged care guidelines to conform to OzSAGE advice and World Health Organisation best practice. Tasmanians living in aged care are some of the most at-risk people in our community, but the Liberals are refusing to listen to the science about how best to protect them. 
We are concerned an underlying reason for these poor quality guidelines and the subsequent failure to ensure N95 or P2 masks are worn, and to properly upgrade ventilation systems, is a desire to cut costs in aged care.

Minister Rockliff’s silence in Parliament indicates it is unlikely he will be updating the advice for aged care facilities to require the minimum protections needed to care for Tasmanians at risk.

Peter Gutwein’s Liberals have now seemingly abandoned aged care residents in the same way their federal counterparts have.