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‘Illogical’: Close contact rule changes slammed



AMA Tasmania president Helen McArdle said given the community transmission of the virus in Tasmania, closing the border would have a limited effect.“Shutting the borders now is not going to help a lot, because we don’t know how much Covid is out in the community,’’ she said.“We can’t keep it out, but we can limit the spread.”Dr McArdle said a ramping up of booster vaccinations and increased public messaging to encourage mask-wearing and checking in was needed.“We have a very good vaccination rate which will help us … and we know Omicron is less severe than Delta, particularly in a vaccinated population,’’ she said.“That’s good, but our concern is if we get enormous numbers of cases, that could put a strain on the hospital system.”The AMA’s national president Omar Khorshid has been critical of the new narrow definition of close contacts, saying many more Covid-19 cases would be missed.Dr McArdle agreed, saying it didn’t make sense.“We’re told that Omicron is much more infectious and transmissible, and suddenly we go from a close contact definition of 15 minutes to one of four hours,’’ she said.“That’s illogical.”Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor renewed the party’s call for state borders to be closed and lashed the new close contacts definition as dangerous.“Tasmania has a much more vulnerable population, and a health system that will not cope with the increased burden Covid will put on it,” she said.“Governments must not give up trying to control COVID-19.”Acting Labor Leader Anita Dow called for Premier Peter Gutwein to explain what public health advice informed the changes relating to close contacts.“The definition of a close contact has consequences not just for our health system but also for our community and economy,’’ she said.Government Minister Guy Barnett said rising case numbers were not a surprise.“In terms of the numbers increasing, that’s expected,’’ he said.“The government is very well prepared and I’d like to pay tribute to Public Health and those at the frontline doing that job this Christmas and new year period and going into January. It’s full on.”The Rural Doctors Association of Australia warned the redefining of close contacts would only lead to a further exponential rise in Omicron cases across follow Cameron Whiteley

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