Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
Predictably, Tasmanians hospitals are struggling as the current Covid wave continues. Around 300 healthcare workers are unable to show up to work today due to Covid, and the North West Regional and Launceston General Hospitals are both at level three Covid management plans.
Tasmania is recording well over 1000 new cases a day and is heading towards half the state’s population being infected or reinfected. As BA.4 and BA.5 infect in large numbers, we’re looking towards rates seen earlier this year.
This is shaping to be January all over again. The Rockliff Government knows what to expect in terms of high absenteeism, mass infection and hospitalisations, and health system overload. The only difference is, in January a mask mandate was in place.
The new subvariants are more infectious, and more vaccine evasive. By refusing to implement a universal mask wearing requirement, the Rockliff Government is actively ignoring the single best public health measure he can take to reduce the amount of airborne infections, and to prevent the increased risks that come from reinfections.
The Greens wrote to the Premier and Director of Public Health over two weeks ago, outlining the science on reinfection rates and long-term Covid health risks, and urging them to reconsider the ending of mask wearing protections. We have received no response.
The most simple, effective mitigation is to reinstate mask-wearing in indoor settings, and invest in air purification measures for businesses. It will save lives, and reduce infection and reinfection.
We implore the Premier and Director of Public Health, for the sake of our elderly, immune compromised, those with a disability – our hospital workers, and every Tasmanian who needs their help – to reinstate mask protections, today.
Every Covid case avoided is better for that person, their workplace, the continuity of supply and services, and our community.
If this wave of Covid is expected to peak in August or September, with tens of thousands of infections before then, there is no time to waste.