Amber alert welcomed as proactive step, next step is for government to get proactive on social restrictions | AMA (WA)

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Amber alert welcomed as proactive step, next step is for government to get proactive on social restrictions

Thursday February 17, 2022

Australian Medical Association (WA)

As reported in today’s edition (17 February) of The West Australian:

“Hospitals are moving on to a war footing, with an ’amber alert’ declared after WA reported a spike in local COVID cases.

Staff in public hospitals in Perth and Peel, the South West and Great Southern regions have been told they will move to the higher risk rating from Thursday.

Amber, which means WA is ’COVID alert’, is the second of four stages in the health system’s plan to cope with the looming wave of Omicron infections.

Red alert or ’COVID active’ will be declared once there is widespread transmission of the virus, followed lastly by black alert — “COVID peak” — when the system is at capacity.”

In response, AMA (WA) President Dr Mark Duncan-Smith held a media conference this afternoon, with the following opening address:

“The AMA (WA) welcomes the change to a full amber alert (as opposed to interim amber). This is a proactive step by the Government and by WA Health to help protect both patients and healthcare workers. By doing this, it ramps up things with respect to PPE (personal protective equipment) and also testing and screening of patients presenting to hospital, to reduce the need for furloughing of healthcare workers.

We’ve moved today to full amber, which means more PPE in more circumstances for healthcare professionals, and also screening for patients coming into hospitals, with planned admissions and PCRs or RATs beforehand. So, this will include all elective surgery.

And also in some very high-risk areas such as the transplant ward, for example, where staff will have twice-weekly RATs as well.

We are currently in amber. Red implies high transmission levels and hopefully, we never get to black because black means effectively there’s a collapse of the medical system.

We anticipate hundreds of cases in February by the end of the month, thousands of cases in March, and a peak sometime in April of more than 9,000 new cases a day.

But that is on the assumption that the McGowan Government introduces restrictions like South Australia at the appropriate time.

If restrictions are not introduced at the appropriate time, and we effectively let it rip, then unfortunately modelling would suggest that we will get a peak in April of somewhere between 50,000–60,000 new cases a day, and our medical system will not handle that.

It will collapse and there will be an increased death rate from not only COVID, but from all medical presentations.”

Please contact AMA (WA) Media via email for further information on this issue.