Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
The predicted and rapidly unfolding COVID crisis is hurting Tasmania. Hundreds of people a day are being infected, testing is a mess and businesses are closing their doors.
In the three weeks since Peter Gutwein opened the State’s borders and welcomed COVID to our island, we’ve gone from a confident and healthy island to a bunkered-down, infected community, with many living in anxiety.
Over 700 Tasmanians tested positive in the last 24 hours, and Omicron is now in aged care homes, hospitals and childcare centres. There is obvious community transmission, close contacts and symptomatic people are being turned away from testing clinics, and businesses are closing their doors.
Peter Gutwein’s call for calm is nothing more than failed leadership. The Premier bulldozed to open the borders - despite knowing almost nothing about Omicron, but in the full knowledge of unvaccinated under 12s and a fast spreading new wave in NSW and Victoria.
Tasmania is now in the grip of a serious health crisis and public confidence in the government’s management of COVID has collapsed, largely because Peter Gutwein has stopped leading with care.
After 22 months of putting public health first, and telling people how serious and debilitating COVID could be, the Premier has opened the border and walked away.
The Premier must stop trying to normalise Omicron and put the health and safety of Tasmanians and local businesses first. We need to slow the rapid spread of COVID in the community, and we implore Peter Gutwein to put the needs of vulnerable people first.
Slowing the virus is a multi-pronged strategy starting with closing the borders to high risk states, and using a short lockdown to allow the beleaguered public health response to catch up with the massive caseload. We urgently need to fast-track vaccines, more rapid antigen tests and staff for contact tracing, to continue quarantine, better masks (KF94, P2/FFP2, N95), and to improve indoor air quality.
If the Premier continues this heartless ‘let it rip’ strategy, he is responsible for every Tasmanian who tests positive, every person turned away from a testing clinic, and every business that closes its doors.