The interim report into the COVID-19 outbreak on Tasmania’s North West Coast paints a concerning picture of a hospital system underprepared and under-resourced for a pandemic.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the report released today shows multiple systemic failures ahead of the outbreak.
“This outbreak has been one of the worst in Australia, with 11 of the state’s 12 deaths directly linked to the North West,” Ms White said.
“It is not surprising that the Ruby Princess is suspected to be the initial source of infection – sick passengers from that vessel have travelled across the country and around the world.
“The real question is why the North West was hardest hit, resulting in the closure of two of the region’s hospitals, the involvement of the military, the quarantining of nearly 5000 people and the effective lockdown of the North West region.
“The report recommends strengthening infection control measures and training, screening visitors, reducing movement of staff between facilities and minimising patient transfers.
“These are all things that we would have expected to be included in a properly executed pandemic plan following the Director of Public Health’s declaration of a public health emergency on 17 March.
“Yet nearly three weeks later, on 3 April – day 18 of the public health emergency – the first case in a staff member was detected at the North West Regional Hospital.
“We agree with the Premier and health authorities that now is not the time to ascribe blame.
“But the Government must take responsibility for the fact that the health system in the North West was not adequately prepared for the impact of the pandemic, weeks after the declaration of a public health emergency.”
“The Premier must explain this to the people of Tasmania. We owe it to those who have lost loved ones, as well as those in the wider community who are desperate for answers.”
Rebecca White MP