Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has hit out at “keyboard warriors” criticising health workers after two hospitals were closed and up to 5000 people were quarantined after a coronavirus cluster was identified in the northwest of the state.
“Anyone that’s thinking about lining up a health care worker, taking a pot shot at them, should just draw breath and accept that there is a process under way,” Mr Gutwein said at a press conference today.
“We will get to the bottom of it, and then we will explain fully what has happened.”
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Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy retracted a comment that a new cluster of COVID-19 cases in the region was from an “illegal dinner party”. Mr Gutwein dismissed the report as “rumour”, but admitted the concern that it had caused in the community prompted him to launch a police investigation to get to the bottom of it.
Now it seems healthcare workers have suffered blowback the report.
Mr Gutwein revealed that one of the “challenges” health care workers in the region now face came “as a result of some of the social media traffic, some of the keyboard warriors, that are lining them up and taking aim at them”.
“I want north-west coasters just to pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that the people that have supported them in their health care centre and their health centres now for decades are people that should be acknowledged for the work that they’ve done,” he said.
“And this shouldn’t be an opportunity for those that want to get online and vilify and take aim.
“That’s not acceptable.”
The sudden shutdown of North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital forced 1200 staff and their families and other close contacts – up to 5000 people – into a two-week quarantine.
Amid those closures, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) arrived yesterday afternoon to assist and boost healthcare services in the region.
The premier confirmed today that six Tasmanians have died from the coronavirus pandemic and there were 15 new cases as of yesterday.
“All of those that are linked to the north-west outbreak,” he said.
“This brings our total positive cases recorded in Tasmania to 165. Of the 165 positive cases, 57 of those are recovered. We’ve got 102 cases that are still ongoing.”
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