Less information and changes to contact tracing

Filed in Just In by September 13, 2021

NSW contact tracers are no longer calling most individuals with covid, businesses are being asked to do their own contact tracing and NSW Fire and Ambulance services are concerned at the government’s plans to have 150 fire service staff support ambulance.

At the 11am covid media conference a journalist asked if contact tracers were now only investigating prisons, hospitals and age care cases “because they are overwhelmed, is that correct?”

Dr Jeremy McAnulty responded, “as case numbers have escalated we have rehoned how we do our risk assessments and how we follow up cases and contacts.”

“And so as we alerted many days ago… we’ve taken the deliberate decision to prioritise locations such as workplaces, high risk settings such as prisons, aged care facilities, hospitals where we know that there is an increased risk of transmission or places where we’ve identified transmission,” he said.

“In regional areas where there are a few cases, we’ve continued to even lower risk areas, just because we want to make sure there is no transmission at all in those areas,” he said.

Contact tracers are now only using text messages to notify most covid cases and businesses are being required to perform contact tracing.

“Were working with businesses and we’ve been doing that for many weeks now to help them develop plans, guided by guidance we have and provided with additional advice…because the businesses are often in the best place to know how their businesses work, who is most at risk and how they can organise their businesses through their pre-existing covid plans to identify who is most at risk,” said Dr McAnulty.

Concerns were also raised at the media conference that the government had asked 150 fire fighters with basic first aid training be available to support NSW Ambulance, with a journalist saying both organisations had questioned how someone with basic first-aid could be expected to respond to a cardiac arrest without that training.

The Premier said, “prepared yourselves for things being done differently.”

When asked why the government took days to lockdown after the West Hoxton Park outbreak the Premier responded to journalists as follows:

Journalist: “You were given the formal written advice to lock down and you say within hours you…”

The Premier interrupts…“I didn’t say that…”

Journalist, “you said within hours, you were given the advice to lock down…”

The Premier interrupts, “..yeah I didn’t say it was written down…”

Journalist, “so it was verbal advice, just to confirm?”

Premier, “well, advice, it doesn’t matter how the advice was provided..”

Journalist: “ok, so hours after being given the advice to lock down, how long after health became aware of the West Hoxton Park being something that they could not control, being a super spreader event advice, was the lockdown, what is that time frame between West Hoxton setting off alarm bells and the lockdown being announced?”

Premier: “Well quite immediate I mean,”

Journalist: “What does that mean ‘quite immediate’?

Premier: “Well we react to the health advice, as we receive it and I could have waited an extra hour, or an extra day but I chose to come back on the same day and hold another press conference…we reacted within hours…”

Journalist: “The West Hoxton Party occurred on the 19th, Health knew about it on the 21st, they thought they’d found everyone, on the 24th they realised that there were people that they didn’t know were there and that had bene in the community for five days, on the 25th the next day you locked down the Eastern Suburbs, not West Hoxton until the 26th when you locked down the whole state, why did you wait between the 24th and 26th to lock down?”

Premier: “Look these are decisions we took based on the health advice and again there will be people who say we went too hard and too soon, others will say we were not hard enough, I mean there are lots and lots of people who will have an opinion on this…”

Journalist: “…are you saying it wasn’t until the 26th that they advised you?”

Premier: “No, no, I can’t say this more proudly, criticise governments, but our public health officials are the best in the land…”

This morning the government also did not provide a breakdown of cases by local government area in regional NSW, instead releasing case numbers by local health district.

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