TASMANIA’S Covid safety bubble has been burst since borders reopened just a month ago, with more than 8000 active cases in the State.
The Omicron variant of the virus has spread rapidly and authorities have changed the rules to support an overworked health system.
Describing it as a “challenging time’’ the Government repeatedly says the outbreak of Covid was expected.
Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said he understood it was a stressful time for many.
“But Tasmanians have a record of working together and pitching in when it counts and the best way to get through this is by following the best health advice, get vaccinated and use common sense,’’ Mr Rockliff said.
As of Monday this week, children from five to 11 years are eligible for a Covid vaccine with about 40 per cent of those in this age group having already booked an appointment.
This week Education Minister Sarah Courtney hinted primary school children may be required to wear masks at school when it returns on February 9.
At the time of going to press, there were 15 people in hospital with Covid but only four people were being treated specifically for Covid symptoms.
“The low number of hospital admissions in relation to positive cases continues to reflect the current medical evidence that the Omicron strain, while highly transmissible, is much milder,’’ Mr Rockliff said.
“We especially appreciate the essential workers who, based on Public Health advice and with the support of the AMA, can now return to work earlier to help keep our health system working efficiently.
“The Omicron variant has rapidly changed the rules for everyone and we are being flexible in our responses.’’
On average between 3000 and 5000 PCR tests are conducted each day and nearly 15,000 free Rapid Antigen Tests have been issued to symptomatic cases and close contacts.
“Tasmanians are reminded that you only need to register a positive RAT result on the Public Health website if you have not undertaken a PCR test.
Positive PCR tests are automatically registered. RATs can be obtained from MyState Bank Arena Glenorchy, Rokeby Police Academy and locations in the north.
“If you are in a rural or regional area and you are symptomatic or a close contact of a case, please contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to arrange the collection of a free RAT or to book a PCR test at a clinic.
There will be further options identified for access to a free RAT in regional areas in the coming days.
“These are challenging times and it understandable that many people are feeling anxious, but this is what we’ve been preparing for and is the reason we are highly vaccinated, with a well prepared health system.