Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie fears the state is yet to see the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, following the closure of two hospitals due to a fresh outbreak.
The state closed the facilities at Burnie in the northwest after a virus outbreak hit 66 people including 45 healthcare workers.
The closures have forced about 5000 people into quarantine for two weeks with 1200 staff and their families affected.
“This is a really horrific situation to be in right now,” Ms Lambie said. We’re going to see the result of this in the next seven to 10 days on just how bad this is, whether or not it is going to get any worse or whether we get through this by the tip of our nose.
“I think that scares the hell out of us. We don’t know whether we have all the resources that we need down here. It depends who you ask.
“That’s very, very concerning.”
She called on the Federal Government to ensure Tasmania had enough equipment to deal with a “worst case scenario”.
“And that’s the truth of the matter. This could just turn really, really nasty. If it hasn’t already, it can get a lot worse yet.”
An elderly woman was the sixth person to die from COVID-19 in the island state, while at the Mersey Community Hospital in Latrobe.
The state has 165 confirmed cases, with an increase of 15 cases.
Of the total cases, 47 came over the Easter break in the northwest outbreak.
The closed medical facilities will be given a deep clean with Australian Defence Force and Australian Medical Assistance Teams in town to help.
But Senator Lambie said that while the affected staff were now isolating, the risk of COVID-19 spreading further throughout the community remained.
“The private and public hospital here is in the same place, unfortunately, and you can walk through hallways from one to the other. So that’s why they’ve had to close both of those down,” she said.
“We’ve also got another smaller public hospital about 30 minutes down the road and other than that, they’re having to go through to Launceston.
“But this is actually involving about 1200 of the staff, whether they’re nurses, doctors, cleaners, transport drivers that have been through there and dropped off stock.
“This is a bit of a problem. They’re isolating at home and they’ve also got family members in their own homes.
“So, you could be looking at up to about 5,000 people. We just don’t know how all this is going to play out.
“Obviously, if people do have it and they don’t know that they’ve got it and then someone else gets it in the house, for me it’s going to be like a little bit of merry-go-round.
“We’re all sitting back here on the north-west coast just waiting to see how all this is going to play out. It’s quite scary.”
The first three people to die in Tasmania were passengers on Ruby Princess cruise ship. Two people who died at the North West Regional Hospital over Easter were not on the vessel.
“I do know that there’s people that belong to State Parliament that are asking for an oversight committee into all this,” Senator Lambie said.
“I think there’s going to have to have one, to be honest with you.
“We need to know why it spread so quickly, that hospital, what controls were not in place, why it got to that so quickly and there’s a lot of unanswered questions, which is making people especially on the north-west coast quite uneasy out there at the moment.”
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