AMA (WA) supports end of State of Emergency and introduction of Temporary COVID-19 Declaration | AMA (WA)


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AMA (WA) supports end of State of Emergency and introduction of Temporary COVID-19 Declaration

Monday October 31, 2022

With the State of Emergency declaration not being renewed, it will come to an end on Friday, 4 November after 963 days, the Government has announced. The Public Health State of Emergency, under the Public Health Act 2016, will also be revoked at the same time.

Under the Emergency Management Amendment (Temporary COVID-19 Provisions) Bill 2022, if required, the State Emergency Coordinator can make a ‘Temporary COVID-19 Declaration’, which will only come into effect if the State Emergency Coordinator is satisfied that COVID-19 poses a risk to the safety of the community, and requires a co-ordinated response to prevent loss of life or harm to the health of the community.

AMA (WA) President Dr Mark Duncan-Smith held a media conference this afternoon in response to the announcement. The following is an edited extract based on Dr Duncan-Smith’s comments.

WA is no longer in a state of emergency or health emergency, and it is appropriate to downgrade the status. The temporary COVID-19 declaration does appear to give enough powers to the Government to deal with any future outbreaks of this pandemic. I think having a system where the Chief Health Officer is the one that provides the advice of whether to go to that status or not is adequate. Ultimately, it is the Police Commissioner who would have to enforce any of the health orders. So, from an administrative point of view, I don’t see a problem with it.

The AMA (WA) supports the independent review of the pandemic response to ensure that lessons learnt can be applied to future health emergencies. Non-government people should be included on that review so that they can actually review the processes and the responses to see where things were done well and where they could have been improved. I would like to see outcomes that are tangible, so that we can effectively get an instruction sheet or a recipe of how to approach future pandemic and health emergencies in the future.

I’d be particularly interested in what the review might find about the initial plan to offload patients from the Artania to three small private hospitals that didn’t have any PPE, no systems and no training. That could have been an absolutely unmitigated disaster for WA, and thankfully, that wasn’t followed through.

The downgrading of the COVID response does not mean that COVID is over and COVID is not dangerous. An example of this is the new XBB variant that has arrived in WA. COVID is still a very active disease that you want to get as few times as possible and as least severely as possible when you get it, so that you reduce your chance of organ damage and of long COVID. COVID will become a recurrent epidemic disease that will occur as variants travel around the world.

Your individual COVID response still remains COVID 123:

  1. Protect yourself: use masks and avoid vulnerable situations, depending on your circumstances.
  2. If you get symptoms, test. If you’re COVID-positive, isolate.
  3. Keep your vaccination status up to date so that if you do get COVID, you get it as mildly as possible.