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Are our remaining coronavirus restrictions still needed?

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Associate Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious illnesses professional at ANU, stated there wanted to be warning if isolation guidelines had been eased, arguing we would have liked extra information on the BA.2 variant changing into dominant in Australia earlier than it might be deemed a suitable danger.

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“Even in the countries that have done it, there are usually conditions,” he added, noting it could be prudent to keep up testing necessities or maybe guidelines about not visiting aged care services and hospitals after potential publicity.

Professor Catherine Bennett, chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, stated rising information concerning the restricted danger of reinfection modified the calculus for shut contact isolation.

“There are lots of people out there who have had infections and their risk of coming up with it a second time is very low,” she stated.

She stated the present shut contact guidelines weren’t being closely policed and a transfer to advising folks to quarantine voluntarily primarily based on their particular person circumstances may work.

“Isolation is probably something we could pull back on, with a move to testing and monitoring for symptoms,” she stated. “If we are trusting people anyway, we should trust them to avoid vulnerable settings without requiring them to stay at home.”

Masks on public transport … and at indoor music festivals

Although many of the guidelines round mask-wearing had been scrapped final month, there are some locations they continue to be necessary: on public transport (together with taxis and Ubers) and at public transport ready areas (together with airports), in hospitals and well being services, at a residential care facility or hostel, on a airplane whereas above NSW and at indoor music festivals of greater than 1000 folks.

“You can have a small setting which is probably more risky than a large one, depending on ventilation,” Professor Bennett remarked concerning the pageant rule. “That is the trouble with one-size-fits-all rules.”

However, she was supportive of conserving masks in locations with susceptible folks and on public transport, significantly with a deal with higher-quality N95/P2 masks.

“While case numbers are on the rise in the community, in particular, these are places that masks do have a role.”

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Professor Greg Dore, an infectious illnesses doctor with the Kirby Institute, agreed masks use must be centered on N95/P2 masks in settings with susceptible folks.

Professor Alexandra Martiniuk, an epidemiologist on the University of Sydney, stated NSW was getting into a “tricky point” with realizing which restrictions would assist curb rising instances. There is critical proof COVID-19 spreads finest in crowded environments with shouting and singing, like a music pageant.

As for public transport, she stated proof confirmed masks carrying helped defend the susceptible, and that didn’t simply imply folks in hospital and aged care.

“Sometimes our most vulnerable in the community need to ride public transit, such as older people who don’t drive any more,” she famous.

Vaccination necessities

In NSW, most professions with a vaccine requirement – together with docs and nurses, academics and the aviation business – solely have to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Only aged care staff are required to have had a 3rd dose.

The proof with the Omicron variant suggests three doses of a vaccine is important to have any vital influence on the chance of catching and transmitting the virus.

“I don’t understand why we’d want to continue to discriminate against a small minority in the community when the impact on overall transmission is negligible to none,” Professor Dore stated.

He believes there is no such thing as a purpose for a double-dose vaccine passport beneath the present circumstances. Other specialists have related ideas.

“With the position we were in late last year, requiring two doses was very clear,” stated Paul Griffin, an affiliate professor on the University of Queensland who conducts scientific trials of vaccines.

“But for good protection against Omicron we do know we need three doses, it’s likely that two doses are not sufficient to stop transmission and infection.”

Dr Griffin stated whereas it was “abundantly clear” these working with susceptible folks, together with well being and aged care staff, ought to have three doses to guard others from extreme an infection, it was tougher to justify any vaccine mandate for different professions.

“It’s not as clear-cut, careful consideration should be made as to whether there is a reason other professions need to be vaccinated.”

Pre-departure testing

The guidelines for folks getting into Australia are a mixture of federal and state necessities.

The federal Department of Home Affairs requires that worldwide arrivals have a destructive pre-departure COVID-19 check, both a PCR check taken inside 72 hours of take-off or a medical certificates that signifies a destructive fast antigen check (RAT) was taken inside 24 hours of departure.

If an individual’s flight is delayed, their check stays legitimate even when it was taken outdoors of these time frames. However, when a flight is re-scheduled or cancelled, they have to make certain they’ve fulfilled the necessities for his or her new flight time.

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On arrival in NSW, absolutely vaccinated travellers should journey straight to their lodging and take a RAT. They are additionally barred from visiting high-risk locations reminiscent of hospitals and aged care services for seven days after their arrival.

“Ultimately, it’s trying to stop a seeding case on a plane. And if you take that testing away, people might be less careful before travel and we may end up with more cases this way,” Professor Bennett stated.

Professor Martiniuk agreed this rule was far more about these on the airplane than these in Australia.

“It’s not necessarily needed for Australia any more: we are a pond of COVID and dropping one more drop in doesn’t really do much.”

Hotel quarantine for the unvaccinated

As for unvaccinated worldwide arrivals, they’re still topic to every week in lodge quarantine at a value of $1500. Places in quarantine are capped at 210.

The Herald revealed final month that fewer than 100 folks had been in lodge quarantine in Sydney at anybody time, with experts questioning whether there was any need to single the small group out given the charges of an infection locally.

“The unvaccinated are more likely to experience severe illness, but that might be more of an argument for mandatory health insurance than quarantine,” ANU infectious illnesses professional Peter Collignon stated.

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