Veterinary services are being highly impacted by Omicron, but states haven’t changed definitions and animals are suffering


The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is calling on state and territory governments to recognise that all veterinary services are being highly impacted and implement the National Cabinet guidelines, so veterinary teams have the flexibility to manage close contacts to ensure veterinary services can continue to be delivered.

“Veterinarians are highly trained in infection control, they understand emergency disease responses and are able to manage infection risk. They are well positioned to be able to manage the risk associated with asymptomatic close contacts of Covid-19,” said Dr Cristy Secombe, AVA Head of Veterinary and Public Affairs.

The Australian Veterinary Association surveyed the veterinary profession to understand the impact of Covid-19 is having on the care of animals across Australia. 23% of respondents indicated that the welfare of animals had been significantly negatively affected by COVID-19 restrictions over the past four weeks, with a further 47% stating that it had been somewhat affected.

In the states most affected by the Omicron variant, 87% of veterinary practices have experienced staff shortages due to COVID-19 with 25% having had to close for periods as a result and a further 31% having to reduce hours. This is making it increasingly difficult for animal owners to get veterinary appointments for their pets and placing veterinary staff under incredible stress.

An average of 14% of veterinary teams are quarantining as a result of being infected with COVID. However, an average of 26% are quarantining as close contacts and could return to work to care for pets under the current national cabinet guidelines.

” To allow veterinarians to provide veterinary care for all animals including pets we implore the state governments to urgently modify public health orders and reflect the guidance provided by national cabinet in recognition that all veterinary services are highly impacted. COVID 19 has worsened the pre-existing skills shortage within the veterinary profession and it’s now getting to the point that some small animal emergencies cannot be treated ” said Dr Secombe.

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