Pharmacists call for urgent reinstatement of mask mandate and other measures to protect public health

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Pharmacists call for urgent reinstatement of mask mandate and other measures to protect public health

Australian pharmacists are calling on State and Territory Government’s to urgently reinstate COVID-19 mitigation measures like mask mandates, QR check-in codes and density limits to protect public health as infection rates spiral out of control across the country, particularly in NSW.

Professional Pharmacists Australia President Geoff March said that the alarming spike in COVID-19 case numbers was fast becoming a major public health crisis and mitigation measures needed to urgently be put in place.

“Australia’s pharmacists are on the front line in the war against COVID and provide services, including vaccination, which are fundamentally important to protecting the community’s health.

“The spiraling COVID-19 case numbers across Australia, but particularly in NSW put the health of pharmacists and their customers, many of whom are elderly and immunocompromised, at risk.

“Early indications are that the Omricon variant is up to five times more infectious than Delta, but not necessarily less severe.

“Moreover, early indications are that even fully vaccinated Australians have only low protection against the new strain, meaning that almost everyone who hasn’t had their booster shot is at risk of infection.

“Now is absolutely not the time to be abolishing mandatory mask wearing in retail and indoor areas, a measure that has been scientifically proven to slow down COVID transmission.

“We urge all State and Territory governments, particularly in NSW to immediately reinstate mandatory mask wearing in indoor areas to slow down the spread of the virus and to protect public health.

“Compulsory QR check in codes provide important data which health authorities can use to inform community members that they’ve been exposed to the virus, so that they can get tested, self-isolate and avoid infecting others. These must be also reinstated.

“With the virus rampantly spreading through the community, density limits on venues and events are a sensible way of slowing the virus down, and ensuring we do not experience multiple, back to back super spreader events. We must reinstate density limits.

Dr March said that the first priority of government was to protect the health and safety of its people, but current government policies were recklessly putting public health at risk.\

“Any government policy setting which knowingly allows tens of thousands of people to become infected with a serious virus is both irresponsible and a complete abdication of government’s primary responsibility - to keep people safe.

“With over 3,700 cases today, the highest number of cases at any time in Australia over the last two years of the pandemic and climbing, the NSW the government’s reckless policies have put us on trajectory that will see our already exhausted health workers and hospitals overrun early in the new year. If this occurs, accessing hospital care for anyone, not just COVID patients, will become extremely difficult.

“As a result of the current lack of moderate and sensible COVID restrictions, thousands of Australians will become seriously ill, many will be permanently debilitated with long COVID and hundreds more will die.

“This is a completely unacceptable outcome and we urge all State and Territory governments, particularly in NSW to reinstate the mandate on mask wearing in indoor locations, QR check in codes and density limits to slow the spread of the virus to protect community health.

Media Contact: Darren Rodrigo 0414 783 405