Audio: Professor John Burgess speaks to the media, Saturday 14 March 2020, Hobart
AMA Tasmania President Prof John Burgess has reassured the public that the state’s doctors are coping with the coronavirus challenge.
“It’s a challenge for any workforce to deal with increased demand, however our medical practitioners, our GPs and hospital staff, are prepared for this. They train for this. And provided they are given the necessary resources, they will do their job.”
“Medical practitioners, by nature of the work they are doing with patients who have the infection, will be at increased risk,” he told TT. “But with adequate protective equipment they are willing and able to perform their duty.”
“The AMA would like to see the current level of support that GPs are getting amplified,” he said. “They need appropriate support and coordination from all levels of government.” He said GPs currently had adequate access to protective equipment, and that had to continue, and increased resourcing may be required.
He also commended public health officials for their work in preparing for what he called ‘the first phase’ of the COVID-19 response.
Prof Burgess was the restriction on mass gatherings was ‘proportionate’.
“What we are trying to do by these measures – the hygiene measures, the avoidance of mass gatherings, and the quarantine measures – it to flatten the curve of the epidemiology of the disease and delay the peak.” He said that COVID-19 for many people might be like a regular winter flu, but some – people with cardiac and respiratory issues, elderly, diabetics – were particularly at risk.
“We’re trying to protect Tasmanians from the health effects that might occur. We do this so that our hospitals do not receive too many presentations over a short period.”
He made the point that it was appropriate for the response on coronavirus to change, even on a daily basis.
The AMA recognise that community transmission within Tasmania, as in other parts of the world, can occur. “However, we can be well prepared and can minimise this,” he pledged.
He said Tasmania and Australia had learned from what had happened overseas, and continued to learn.
Prof Burgess urged Tasmanians to ‘meet the challenge together’ by:
- individually attending to personal hygiene measures
- social distancing
- avoidance of mass gatherings
- self-quarantine and seeking advice regarding the need for testing if unwell
- listening to and taking the advice of trusted health experts
SEE SELF-ASSESSMENT CHART BELOW.
The AMA president commended luxury cruise ship the MSC Magnifica for making the ‘difficult but necessary decision’ of preventing passengers on board from leaving the vessel when docked in Hobart today.
The Magnifica’s decision, however, was not quite what it seemed. Passengers were actually allowed to disembark, as long as they did not return the vessel. Passengers from another cruise ship, the Sea Princess, were free to disembark.
Purportedly the Magnifica decision was to prevent ship passengers, currently virus free, from bringing an infection back on to the boat.
It was reported elsewhere that two of Australia’s largest cruise ship operators, P&O and Carnival Cruise, have announced they are suspending operations due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The suspension will be for at least thirty days.