The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called for NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian to take further measures beyond making stay-at-home orders applicable to four local government areas to control the spread of the virus in the state.
AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid held a press conference on Friday, explaining that all Sydneysiders should be subject to clear rules to stay at home ‘so that we can get ahead of this virus and stop further transmission’.
Khorshid added that a stronger approach was needed to control this particular outbreak of the COVID Delta variant, which had reached 49 cases in the state.
“Sydney has not faced this before and it means a different approach is required. Our concern with the current announcement is that it is confusing for many people in Sydney,” he said.
Khorshid said while the AMA welcomed NSW Health stay-at-home orders for the local government areas of Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick, ‘unfortunately in our view that is not quite enough’.
He called on the government to subject the entire Sydney basin to a lockdown if it truly wanted to avoid an outcome where Australia’s largest city would be plunged into months and months of lockdown.
“An alternative and what the AMA believes will be the right move is a lockdown of the Sydney basin. Everyone doing the same thing, the same rules for everyone,” Korshid said.
“If we do that, it would let the government get ahead of the virus and give the contact traces a chance to catch up.”
During Friday’s announcement of the new movement restrictions for people who live and work in the four Sydney LGAs, a journalist asked the premier why she had not used the word ‘lockdown’ to describe the new measures.
“You can use whatever word you like,” Berejiklian replied.
“But what is really important is for me to explain to our citizens: who is directly impacted, and what our citizens can and can’t do.”
“We are making sure we are getting that information out, and I would ask everyone to come together to apply this very proportionate response. We have chosen not to do the stay-at-home orders in a broader area,” she said.
The premier added that as additional information was made available each day, she would be prepared to accept new advice from NSW Health.
“This is the best health advice and, I believe, a proportionate response to the risk that’s posed,” Berejiklian said.
By not calling it a lockdown, NSW govt not obliging Fed govt Chief Medical Officer to declare a lockdown. Calling it by its name opens door to compensation & support for thousands of businesses and workers now paying heaviest price for Sydney airport quarantine fail.
— Bill Bowtell AO (@billbowtell) June 25, 2021
The head of the AMA however said his organisation believed public health requirements demanded that everybody in Sydney stay at home. He further warned that economic consequences were not the only consideration at play.
“Each state has taken a different approach to the coronavirus. All of our other states and territories would have lockdown much earlier than what has happened in Sydney,” Khorshid said.
“The reality is the Delta strain is different and we should have gone faster.”
“The Delta strain is significantly more transmissible than anything Sydney has faced before,” he added.