New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet has called for a reduction in the seven-day isolation period adding that the winter influenza virus currently posed a bigger issue than COVID-19.
“In many cases at the moment, the current strand of influenza is more severe than the current strands of COVID,” the premier told 2GB radio.
He later added that the state was currently experiencing “one of the worst flu seasons we’ve ever had” and urged people to get a flu shot.
Perrottet also advocated for reducing the mandatory isolation period after a person tests positive for COVID-19, noting that health advice states COVID will remain for at least a “couple of years.”
“So in those circumstances, we need to look at isolation requirements in a way that puts downward still maintains downward pressure on our health system,” he said.
The premier said considerations for other competing health issues, educational outcomes, and opportunities to go to work also need to be balanced as the country moves to the next phase of the pandemic.
In response, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was “not the time” to for the changing of the COVID-19 isolation period.
“Well, we had that discussion. And the advice that is there from the chief medical officer, Professor [Paul] Kelly, was that now is certainly not the time for that to be reconsidered,” Albanese told FiveAA radio.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (L) and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet meet with emergency response leaders at the NSW Rural Fire Service headquarters in Homebush Bay in Sydney, Australia, on July 6, 2022. (James Brickwood-Pool/Getty Images)
Returned Pandemic Leave Payments
The comments come after the prime minister capitulated to reinstate pandemic leave payments that originally ended on June 30.
“I want to make sure that people aren’t left behind, that vulnerable people are looked after, and that no one is faced with the unenviable choice of not being able to isolate properly without losing an income and without being put in a situation that is very difficult,” Albanese told reporters on July 16.
He said the decision was made due to a change in health advice following a new wave of COVID-19 cases.
The payment scheme will be funded in a 50-50 split between state and federal governments.
There are also renewed calls for the return of mask mandates, however, the prime minister previously indicated that it would be up to the discretion of the states.