A year on from Melbourne’s 2020 COVID-19 second wave, pharmacies have again been added to the watch list
According to the Herald Sun, Victorian authorities are currently negotiating whether Melbourne should be put into a five-day lockdown, due to 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the community.
The tabloid claims a return to panic buying, with toilet paper again going into scarcity.
The Chemist Warehouse at Dalton Village, Epping is listed as a Tier 2 site, on 19 May, from 6.45pm to 8pm.
The Chemist Depot Epping, at Pacific Epping Shopping Centre, is also listed as a Tier 2 site, from 11.15am to midday on May 23.
The entire Epping North Shopping Centre (which includes one pharmacy) is considered to be a Tier 2 venue, from 4.45pm to 5.50pm on May 22; as is the Highpoint Shopping Centre, from 5.15pm to 6.35pm on 20 May, excluding several Tier 1 locations within that centre (Lush, Toyworld, Smiggle, Kidstuff, Ishka). Highpoint contains a Chemist Warehouse and a Priceline.
People who have been at Tier 2 sites are asked to be tested urgently and isolate until they have a negative result.
Anthony Tassone, Victorian branch president of the Pharmacy Guild, told the AJP that the emergence of new community-acquired cases of COVID-19 is of great concern.
This is a “chilling reminder of the events of 2020 being 12 months to the day yesterday when the second wave emerged in Melbourne,” Mr Tassone said.
“It is still early days as to what impact there has or will be on pharmacies, but there have been media reports of panic buying behaviour like we saw in supermarkets last year occur in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne.
“Last year we saw cases of unacceptable behaviour directed at essential front line workers including pharmacy staff. Hopefully the public has taken learnings from 2020 that the people on the front line are there to help them and must be respected.”
At the time of writing on Wednesday, he noted that at this stage, there have not been any lockdown measures announced by the Victorian government over and above some restrictions on private and public gatherings, and the need for mask wearing indoors.
On Tuesday, the state government announced that, “On the advice of public health experts, from 6pm tonight private gatherings in the home will be limited to five visitors per day, public gatherings will be limited to 30 people and face masks will need to be worn indoors, unless an exemption applies”.
“The face mask requirement applies everyone aged 12 years and older.”
“These cases are an important reminder that until the majority of Australians have been vaccinated, and as we move into winter, we cannot let any complacency creep in, and we need to keep up our COVIDSafe behaviours,” said health minister Martin Foley.
Anthony Tassone told the AJP that the Guild is in ongoing discussions with the Victorian Department of Health, identifying areas where there is limited or no access for patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and there is a pharmacy that has been deemed suitable to participate in the vaccination program through the Commonwealth’s expression of interest process.
“These recent events have sparked an increase in demand for the COVID-19 vaccine amongst the community, and pharmacies stand ready to take the field and help turn this vaccine stroll-out into a roll-out that will help Australians get protected against this potentially deadly virus,” he said.
“Everyday across Victoria and Australia at the moment, pharmacists are administering flu vaccinations to their patients and being asked when their pharmacy will be able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Besides the 56 locations in Queensland that were announced last week – no other pharmacies know when they will be able to participate.
“The time has well and truly come, the virus is still with us, we need to protect our communities – get pharmacies off the bench and into the game.”
He also advised pharmacists who are feeling the strain to seek help.
“The Pharmacists Support Service is such a vital resource for our profession, was especially so last year and will continue to be.”