AMA calls for review of COVID-19 roadmap

22 Oct 2020

The Australian Medical Association this week called on National Cabinet to review its May 2020 COVID-19 Roadmap. 

AMA Federal President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said that with COVID-19 successfully eliminated in many parts of the country - something that was considered unlikely when the plan was first developed - it is time to assess whether the roadmap remains fit for purpose. 

“We have learnt a great deal about COVID-19 since May, with both local and overseas experience showing just how hard it is to keep infection numbers in check,” Dr Khorshid said. 

“We believe that a renewed roadmap is necessary to continue to support our health response, as well as guide a sustainable economic recovery.” 

Dr Khorshid said that even taking into account a best-case scenario, the plans outlined in the May Roadmap now appear overly ambitious, with the end point of minimal restrictions leaving Australia at risk of severe outbreaks and potential lock downs. 

“The recent New South Wales experience shows just how hard it is to keep COVID-19 under control, with the State taking three months to contain its most recent outbreak, despite it being caused by only a small number of infected people coming across the border from Victoria,” Dr Khorshid said. 

Western Australia has dropped most restrictions, having eliminated the virus and is now highly reliant on border controls and quarantine arrangements. This makes it very vulnerable to an outbreak – particularly given the level of complacency that now exists in the community. 

“We do not think this approach is sustainable in the long term,” Dr Khorshid said. 

Dr Khorshid said that this is a risky strategy, and instead, Australians needs to learn to live with a sensible set of restrictions for the time being, while we wait for a vaccine and/or better treatments. 

Dr Khorshid highlighted that governments must be more honest with the community about the need for restrictions and stop sending mixed signals that fuel complacency. This includes advice to the NSW community to stay away from beaches because of crowds, and the banning of small protest marches, while at the same time, they are being told that crowds of up to 40,000 at sporting events are safe and that it is time for people to return to Sydney CBD workplaces. 

“People are struggling to understand these messages or take them seriously,” Dr Khorshid said.  

The AMA’s most recent communique on COVID-19 and the measures required to tackle the virus and support economic recovery is available here.   

Read the full media release here.