A Victorian pharmacy owner has started a petition calling for eradication of COVID-19 in his state
Everett O’Keeffe, pharmacy owner of the Wonthaggi Amcal Pharmacy located in the Gippsland region of Victoria, has started a Change.org petition calling for authorities to pursue a path of eradication of COVID-19—not just suppression.
“We, the signatories to this petition, are concerned citizens of Victoria and Australia,” reads the appeal to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
“We recognise that it is extremely difficult to balance the economic impact of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) versus the health impact of the virus, as there are many unknowns and infinite variables,” the petition reads.
“We acknowledge that there has been no single answer across the globe that combats COVID-19 effectively without significant hardship. We accept that some form of financial hardship will be part of eradication but are confident that the economic support payments will be suitably managed.
“We implore you to start a clear and decisive path to eradication of COVID-19 by all means necessary, as we believe that the ramifications of not doing so will cost us much more economically, personally and adversely affect the viability of our health service sector for potentially decades to come.
“We believe that we owe this to the rest of the States and Territories that have been successful in eradication, conceding that we now present the single greatest threat to our fellow Australians.”
Mr O’Keeffe, who graduated from a Bachelor of Pharmacy at Monash University and has been working at the Wonthaggi Amcal Pharmacy for almost 20 years, says a lockdown to truly essential services is “required immediately if we are to have any chance at eradication”.
“This would include restrictions to a certain distance from your home for the permitted reasons, to avoid any ambiguity as to how far you can travel,” he told AJP. “This could be a very small circle (a few kilometres) that would allow for food, health care and essential items, in Melbourne and an assigned town for rural communities, as this would allow for easier contact tracing, and reduce the possibility of the spread in all directions.
“As people are intentionally misusing the work travel restrictions, this would need to change to an inclusive list that would be obvious essential business types and others would ask to be listed on and approved.
“Whilst this does seem a harsh response, it is a short-term restriction without ambiguity, so that people cannot interpret rules and misconstrue technicalities to their own gain.
“I feel a part of the silent majority that are too scared to speak up and present their ideas as they are unpopular, and hope that I can encourage others to voice their opinion,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
The petition has so far gained 267 signatures (as of Friday 5pm) with the following comments from signatories:
“Let’s end this now.”
“If WA can do it, surely Victoria can”
“I have a chronic illness and am in the high risk group of people that can’t afford to get this virus, get sick and chance it on a respirator. If the virus isn’t eradicated by means of lockdown or vaccine, it means I’ll be subjected to self-isolating for the remainder of my life as I’m unprepared to gamble with my health, my life…”
“I support the pathway to eradication of Covid-19 as put forward.”
“Enough is enough”
“Suppression is clearly ineffective when the public can’t be relied upon to adhere to recommendations and restrictions. Cycling between restriction levels is both psychologically and economically harmful.”
“It will save lives”
“Let’s kick this virus to the curb once & for all! We all deserve a future.”
“This disease needs a complete kick in the butt, not a tap on the shoulder.”
Mr O’Keeffe says despite being located within such a tight-knit community, it’s been a tough time working in pharmacy during the pandemic.
“We at the pharmacy had implemented personal protection and risk mitigation steps at very early stages of the pandemic, before any mandates were made by any government body,” he told AJP.
“We had our own plan for a pandemic and were prepared for this as possibility. Therefore, as we implemented these steps before any announcements or rules were put in place it did create an unusual environment for our patients, as we were the only ‘business’ in town with any restrictions, conditions of entry and screening processes by staff members before entry to the store was allowed.
“We had a lot of disagreements with people thinking that we were ‘over the top’ and ‘exceeding any government advice’, but on the other hand, we had many more people commending our initial response, level or organisation, preparedness and asking for advice,” said Mr O’Keeffe.
“This was very difficult as my staff were the target of the verbal abuse from a minority of patients.
As the pandemic progressed, more and more people were able to see that we had done the morally and ethically correct response to protect all patients with all disease states, at the expense of front-of-shop sales.
“The patients have started to realise that we are more a health service than a retail business.
“The experience thus far has highlighted the drastic need for education across the entire nation in all fields and the need for more robust laws.”
He added: “In other states and territories, they have been able to return to a better life despite the pandemic. We [in Victoria] are in a position to do so as well, but we must act urgently. I fear the mental health impact that Christmas and summer holidays would have upon people if we were still cycling between various restrictions.”
See the petition here