Health advice critical to recovery plan

7 Oct 2021

The AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid expressed concern at the apparent shift in approach to the management of COVID-19 in NSW announced yesterday, and the potential sidelining of public health advice.

Dr Khorshid said in a statement that the 11th hour changes to the roadmap occurred without the presence of the Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant, while the NSW Government’s Crisis Cabinet had morphed into an Economic Recovery Committee.

“This strongly suggests to the community that health advice will no longer guide the NSW Government as it navigates this critical phase of the pandemic,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The AMA supports gradual opening up of the economy and the loosening of restrictions, but it is critical to observe the impact of each step on transmission and case numbers, otherwise NSW may still see hospitals become completely overwhelmed despite high vaccination rates. 

“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. Economic recovery cannot occur without protecting the health of the community - this is a lesson we have already learnt during this pandemic, and it must not be forgotten in the reopening phase. 

“While NSW has hit an average of 70 per cent of its population of 16 and over being fully vaccinated, this number rapidly drops below 70 per cent for people under 40 years and to as low as 47 per cent for those in the 16 to 19-year-old age bracket. 

“Doherty Institute modelling shows the potential for transmission in these younger age groups is significant and high rates of vaccination are needed to help contain the virus.

“NSW must not be reckless at this critical time. That would cost more lives, cause more suffering, and put the economies of NSW and the nation at risk.  Sydney must take this opportunity to show the rest of the country how to live with COVID whilst protecting health and health care.”

Read the full statement here.