- by Dr Roger Yazbek, Democrats health campaigner
As Australia prepares to face a rising number of COVID-19 cases, the Prime Minister and his party seem more concerned with playing politics than safeguarding the health and well-being of Australians.
At a time when COVID-19 cases are still relatively low, we have a short window of opportunity to slow or halt the spread of the virus throughout Australia. This requires strong and decisive leadership to implement social distancing measures around the country.
Instead, the Prime Minister has continued to encourage people to attend sporting events and other mass gatherings. This is despite the cancellation and shut down of major conferences, theatre districts, theme parks and sporting events around the world.
The Prime Minister and his Government must be providing clear messages and direction to the community. It is inevitable that our economy will suffer in the short term; however, the economy will recover, people’s health may not.
“Facts and evidence dictate that these mass gatherings should not take place”. “We have not approached this with the seriousness it deserves.”Professor Bill Bowtell, infection control expert, ABC today
The Australian Democrats call on the government to listen to the advice of infectious disease specialists and recommend the cancellation of all mass gatherings to slow the spread of the virus through Australia.
The Government must consolidate the messages and implement a public information communication plan to ensure the delivery of consistent and clear messaging to the community.
The Australian Democrats recommend:
- Establishing a dedicated Government led website, to be regularly updated with clear, consistent information on the pandemic and information on how to minimise risk. The website should also have a dedicated section on coronavirus testing, including who should get it and the process for getting a test in each State.
- Establishing a smartphone app reflecting the same information as the website
- Nominating a senior expert in infectious diseases to act as a federal government spokesperson and provide daily updates and information to the community via television and other media outlets.
- Plan to establish a centralised centre for disease control, similar to that in the US, to ensure Australia is prepared for future threats to biosecurity