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Rockliff Must Advocate Masks as Covid Emergency Declaration Ends

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 30 June 2022

Tags: COVID-19, Health

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader 

Given rising case numbers and a new subvariant of Omicron becoming dominant, it is a mistake for the Rockliff Government to end the Covid public health emergency declaration. Covid is not over, it’s still running rampant in the community.

Full vaccine coverage does not protect people from being exposed to a huge viral dose and then infection. The research is clear, Covid can cause serious, sometimes life-shortening, health complications or post-acute illness in about one quarter of people infected.

It is hard to understand how the Rockliff Government can abandon all protections while Covid is still raging. This move goes against the advice of independent health experts, like OzSAGE who recommend mask wearing, ventilation, and investment in cleaning the air we breathe in indoor settings. 

Tasmania is recording over 1000 new cases a day and with the government relying on personal responsibility, mass infection and reinfection will continue. Reinfection puts people at greater risk of more severe illness and long Covid.

BA5 is now circulating, a new variant that is one of the fastest spreading yet. BA4 and BA5 have been observed by the Harvard Medical School as appearing to escape antibody responses among both people who had previous Covid infection, as well as those who have been fully vaccinated and boosted. 

It is the wrong time to be taking our foot off the pedal. 

Winter is only just beginning, and Tasmania has increased hospitalisations due to Covid. 92 Tasmanians have lost their lives to Covid – 79 since the borders opened in December. This pubic health crisis needs to be treated with the seriousness it demands, rather than government abandoning Tasmanians to this virus. 

Short of having emergency measures, we are calling on the Rockliff Government to provide the community with strong advice. It is a complete betrayal of Tasmanians to make Covid a matter of personal responsibility 

If people don’t have the information, how can they protect themselves? 

The simplest thing the Premier and Health Minister could, and should do, is tell Tasmanians this is a serious virus, they should have their vaccinations and boosters up to date and ventilate and mask up in indoor settings outside the home.