The NSW premier urged residents to get a flu shot and a Covid shot while doubling down on his calls to shorten the seven-day Covid lockdown.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said “now is not the time” to discuss lifting the seven-day lockdown rules as New South Wales calls for a reduction in time spent in lockdown.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrotte is calling for discussions on lowering ISO requirements after the winter wave of cases began to be tracked.
Earlier in January, the UK lifted ISO mandates, and last year Australia reduced its lockdown period from two weeks to seven days.
Speaking on radio 5AA, Mr. Albanese confirmed that the idea of changing the lockdown periods was discussed at the national cabinet meeting, but there are no plans to reduce the lockdown periods at the moment.
“The advice from the chief medical officer, Professor Kelly, was that now is definitely not the time for this,” he said.
“This is something health officials will continue to look at. But given the recent increase in the spread of the Covid virus, which we will see continue and is expected to peak in the coming weeks, now is not the time to change the existing provisions.”
Labor Secretary Tony Burke said the situation is changing rapidly and the government will listen to “the best information as it comes in”.
“If you go back to when the pandemic started, every time everything was limited in time, and there is a reason for this. This is something that is rapidly changing,” he said.
Mr Burke said now that the government has reinstated the $750 pandemic payment, there is no excuse for not getting tested.
“I want to make it clear to people that you have no reason not to get tested. You will be taken care of – if you have sick leave you can access it, if not you will still be taken care of here with $750,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Perrotte doubled down on calls to end the seven-day Covid lockdown rule, showing health advice suggests some flu strains are “worse” than the coronavirus.
Warning that Australia could expect more waves of Covid “for many years”, he called for discussion of shorter lockdown periods after the last winter surge recedes.
“Well, we need to look at it,” he told 2GB radio.
“And I brought this up last week about looking at shortening this time period because Covid is not going away.”
Mr Perrotte confirmed that he raised the issue of the seven-day lockdown rules at a national cabinet meeting over the weekend.
The NSW premier first raised the issue in an exclusive interview with news.com.au on Friday.
Whatever happens in the future, he said states have agreed on the need for a national approach to lockdown periods.
More than 2,700 NSW healthcare workers are estimated to be currently in Covid lockdown as chronic staff shortages lead to a hospital emergency department crisis.
Stream the latest COVID-19 news with Flash. 25+ news channels in 1 place. New to Flash? Try 1 month for free. Offer valid until October 31, 2022>
Mr Perrotte said we should expect new waves of Covid for a long time to come.
“And the advice we got is that he will be here for a couple more years,” Mr. Perrotte said.
“So in these circumstances, we need to look at lockdown requirements in a way that puts downward pressure on the health care system, because obviously there are significant numbers of people admitted to our public hospitals during the winter.
“We have to be fair and reasonable in this.”
Mr Perrotte has led a call for the Albanian government to restore the $750 payment for those affected by the pandemic as long as mandatory lockdown rules remain in place.
“The reality is that when the government tells you that you can’t go to work and you can’t provide for your family, especially casual workers, for example, then I think the government should give you this financial support,” he said.
Mr Perrotte also urged Australians to get the flu shot.
“Currently, in many cases, the current form of influenza is more serious than the current form of Covid,” he said.
Then presenter Ben Fordham chimed in: “So it’s health advice for now that there are current flu strains that are more dangerous than the current strains of Covid?”
“Yeah. That’s what we’re saying. So the key points from our side is if you haven’t had a flu shot, get it because you know it works,” he said.
Mr Perrotte said he is now eligible for a fourth Covid shot as the rules have changed to make anyone over 30 eligible and plans to get another boost soon.
He was also interested in the NSW hospitalization data showing that the way the statistics are compared means that anyone who had the virus in the last two weeks was considered a Covid patient regardless of the reason they were hospitalized.
This means that mothers who gave birth to children were considered to have Covid if they had recently contracted the virus, as well as, for example, children who come to treat a broken leg.
“Well, that’s right. And that is how healthcare records Covid rates in hospitals,” Mr Perrotte said.
“That’s why when it comes to counting Covid cases, Covid hospitalizations, you know, we have to be balanced in how we look at those numbers.”
In January, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted all coronavirus lockdown rules as part of a “live with Covid” strategy.
The new rules mean that people in the UK who have tested positive for the virus are no longer required to self-isolate for at least five days.
“Covid will not disappear suddenly,” Boris Johnson said at the time in Parliament.
“Thus, those who will wait for the complete cessation of this war before lifting the remaining rules will restrict the freedoms of the British people for a long time.”
In Australia, people are currently required to self-isolate for seven days after testing positive.
Originally published as NSW premier backs call to cut Covid lockdown, saying some flu strains ‘worse’