Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
In the last two days, Tasmania’s Covid case number has more than doubled to 1000 cases, and hospitalisations have increased by a third. While the evidence of rising Covid cases is unarguable, the Premier and Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff is pushing ahead to remove the very protections Tasmanians need against infection.
With the Covid virus circulating extensively in the community, and without universal mask wearing in indoor spaces, even fully vaccinated people are very susceptible to infection.
From Saturday, Premier Rockliff is removing the requirement to wear face masks in tightly packed indoor places, like public transport, schools or childcare centres. Mask requirements to protect the sick, elderly and immune-compromised in hospitals, aged care and disability settings will also disappear on 30 June.
Full vaccine coverage does not protect people from being exposed to a huge viral dose and then infection. The research is clear now that Covid infection can cause serious, sometimes life-shortening, health complications or post-viral illness in many people.
People who are immunosuppressed, like cancer patients, those who have existing chronic illnesses, such as respiratory disease, diabetes, hypertension, and older people are more likely to get long COVID or a post-COVID condition. Even people without those conditions, or who get few or no Covid symptoms when infected, are at risk.
Universal mask-wearing substantially reduces the amount of virus in small spaces – like buses or hospital waiting rooms. The best way to protect from Covid is layered protection.
It is beyond reason or basic public health management to be removing the requirement to wear masks with Covid infection and daily hospital cases remaining high. The Minister for Health should extend the requirement in existing settings, and expand it to include other public indoor spaces.