Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for HEALTH, Ms COURTNEY
Medical evidence and the experience of other countries in the grip of COVID-19 tells us every day we delay effective social distancing is a day too long. Health workers are the ones who will confront the price of inaction. There is strong health evidence that children can pass the coronavirus to other people. Allowing students to mingle in groups presents a threat to your medical guidelines that aim to contain this disease. How can you continue to advise parents that kids should not have sleepovers or school holidays yet ignore the everyday risk of them in a classroom or bus with the same friends? Parents, teachers and schoolchildren across Tasmania are in a state of anxiety and frustration over the mixed messaging. The Premier is correct: this is serious. It is a matter of life and death and the lost jobs of thousands of people cannot be in vain. Will you recognise this risk and push for school closures?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I reiterate the points that have been made by both the Premier and Deputy Premier regarding to social distancing and school closures. We know with the measures we have taken, and are considering taking, that some of these measures are very blunt and we need to understand the full ramifications of each of these decisions and any unintended consequences.
Both the Premier and the Deputy Premier have outlined quite extensively today why the Government has made that decision, which has been made on expert advice. Over the proceeding weeks in terms of preparedness of our hospital system and the responses within Public Health, we are acting proactively to ensure that every time we receive advice from the experts we act. The Premier has made it very clear on a number of occasions that he will make sure that he will act decisively with the interests of Tasmanians at the heart of every decision.
We are working through these options, as the Deputy Premier has said. We know we have uncertain times ahead and I thank those staff who are working very hard across our private and independent schools because the impact on them, the impact on children and the impact on families across Tasmania needs to be considered.
With regard to school closures, the Deputy Premier and the Premier will continue to act on advice and I have no doubt they will act decisively and appropriately if that advice changes.