Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
Tasmania’s Covid case numbers topped 200,000 yesterday, another grave milestone in the ongoing pandemic. Combined with yesterday’s AHPPC revised health advice about the timing of Covid reinfection, it is continuing evidence the pandemic is not over, despite a conga line of politicians wishing it to be so.
The latest AHPPC advice - to state governments, healthcare workers and the community - is that a person can be reinfected with Covid after just 4 weeks, instead of 12. This is welcome, overdue, advice that substantially lags research and the evidence from other countries.
AHPPC recommends people wear a mask outside the home in crowded indoor environments.
The federal vaccine advisory group, ATAGI, also advises other public health measures, in addition to vaccination, will have the greatest impact against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 surge in infections. They too recommend the increased use of the masks.
The Morrison Liberals roundly silenced public health voices during the federal election campaign, and the results for Australians have been devastating. Covid is now a leading cause of death in the country, and two in five Tasmanians have been infected with the virus.
The current wave of Covid subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, are highly infectious and able to escape vaccine and immunity defences. In Tasmania daily case numbers are trending over 1500, and the NW Regional Hospital and LGH are at level 3 of their COVID-19 Management Escalation Plans, with elective surgeries expected to be delayed.
The Liberals opened Tasmania’s borders in December and it took 4 months for 100,000 Tasmanians to become infected with a virus that increases the risk for serious long-term health effects. The second 100,000 infections have taken just 3 months.
Throughout this time, the Tasmanian Liberals have refused to implement the most effective measure to protect Tasmanians from mass infection with a potentially deadly and disabling virus - universal indoor mask wearing.
The Tasmanian Department of Health has changed online advice to reflect the AHPPC statement that Covid reinfection can occur at 28 days.
The Premier and Minister for Health, Jeremy Rockliff, must also reflect the full ATAGI and AHPPC advice, and announce that masks are required in all crowded indoor settings, and in medical settings and services accessed by vulnerable people.