7 Oct, 2021 10:00 PM4 minutes to read
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced changes to the state’s roadmap out of lockdown yesterday.
NSW’s Premier Dominic Perrottet’s decision to further ease restrictions for the state from Monday has attracted criticism from health experts, with Australia’s top doctor warning “avoidable deaths” may follow.
President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr Omar Khorshid, said he was “very concerned” about the shift in NSW’s approach to managing Covid-19 and the “potential sidelining of public health advice”.
Khorshid said the fact the changes were announced without NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant being present and renaming the Crisis Cabinet the Economic Recovery Committee suggests health advice will “no longer guide the NSW government”.
“The ultimate outcomes of opening too fast or too early will be avoidable deaths and the reintroduction of lockdowns and other restrictions – things no one in NSW wants to see,” he said.
NSW’s chief health officer did not support the changes made to the state’s roadmap, according to 9 News political reporter Chris O’Keefe.
“I have confirmed with multiple sources who are aware of the discussions last night with Dr Chant, that she did not fully endorse this new roadmap,” O’Keefe said.
“The chief health officer warned the new premier all of these changes come with risk, but changing a roadmap that was only nine days old was ultimately a matter for the government.”
Khorshid warned the potential for transmission for people under 40 is “significant” as many of these people are yet to be fully vaccinated.
“If the NSW ‘Covid and Economic Recovery Committee’ moves to open the economy faster than is advised by health experts and the modelling, they will ultimately be held accountable for the impacts of those decisions, including potentially excess deaths, overwhelmed hospitals and the economic catastrophe that would accompany further lockdowns,” Khorshid said.
“The AMA is concerned that the decisions taken in NSW since the change of leadership signal a very different approach to that taken under the leadership of former Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
“The AMA supports opening-up, but it must be done wisely and cautiously, with the ability to pause and assess the impact of lifting restrictions, before moving to the next stage. To do otherwise risks far too much.”
The AMA’s NSW President, Dr Danielle McMullen, said easing restrictions too quickly would undo the work and sacrifices NSW residents had made to get to this point.
“What we don’t want is to open up and be forced to go back into lockdown for Christmas,” McMullen said. “If the hospitals are overwhelmed now we risk completely burning out the workforce, not to mention the impact it will have on both Covid and non-Covid care.”
McMullen said it was “mind-boggling” people would be able to attend mass gatherings yet elective surgery still hasn’t reopened.
“We urge the Premier to get this right, go carefully, and pump the brakes.”
However, Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett was broadly supportive of the changes announced yesterday.
She emphasised the freedoms would only be available to those who had been fully vaccinated and said the re-opening for certain activities would enable people to remain socially distanced.
NSW today: 587 locally acquired cases (7 day avg is 679) pic.twitter.com/xGHfKdMtVq
— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) October 6, 2021
VictoriaVictoria has confirmed another record day of Covid-19 cases, with 1838 infections and five deaths recorded in the 24 hours to midnight last night.
This is the highest number of new cases recorded in Australia throughout the whole pandemic, surpassing the previous record of 1763 infections in Victoria on Tuesday.
Victoria’s health department has not said how many of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks or how many people were already isolating when they tested positive.
Despite the high rate of daily infections, the Burnet Institute’s Mark Stoove said the state was still on its path towards reopening.
“The numbers that have been coming through over the last week or so have been high and they’ve been stabilising between 1000 and 1500,” Stoove told 9 News.
“But it is well within the bounds of our modelling. I don’t see any reason why the government would want to change its roadmap at the moment.”