Second wave impacts optimism

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Closeup of young woman doctor with gloves puts on medical mask.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in different parts of the country, one pharmacy leader says pressure on pharmacy is growing

“As a community pharmacy owner in Melbourne I can attest that the return to lockdown this week has put new pressures on pharmacies and staff,” said Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis in a message to Guild members on Friday, titled “New lockdown puts more pressure on pharmacies”.

“The sense of optimism that we were heading in the right direction to put this pandemic behind us has taken a hit in Victoria, and I think across the country.”

As at Monday afternoon, the Department of Health website noted that there had been 279 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the preceding 24 hours.

To date there have been 9,797 cases all up in Australia, with 7,728 recovered.

Mr Tambassis thanked pharmacists and pharmacy staff around the country and said his own staff had made an “amazing” effort during the difficult circumstances of the last few months.

“We know that the innovative hygiene and safety measures we have taken in pharmacy have been highly successful, and we have been able to continue to serve patients and meet their health needs throughout this crisis,” he writes, encouraging pharmacy to keep vaccinating the general public against the flu.

“The ongoing COVID-19 crisis highlights how critical it is to remain as healthy as possible. And that’s where pharmacies have provided a major service to public health through the huge number of influenza vaccinations we have administered under difficult circumstances.”

Mr Tambassis noted that flu cases in Australia “nosedived” from a relatively high rate of 6962 cases in January and 7161 in February, to 5884 in March and plummeting to 229 in April.

In April 2019 there were 18,705 flu cases across the country.

On Monday morning, Victoria announced that there had been 177 new cases of COVID-19 recorded overnight, the first time in three days the new daily total had been less than 200.

Concern also continues to rise around the NSW cluster linked to the Crossroads Hotel.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told ABC News Breakfast on Monday that it was “very important we act vigorously in responding to this outbreak”.

In relation to the Victorian outbreak and the infection of a number of health workers, he said that “Many of the health care worker cases or the cases linked to health care settings appear to have been transmitted through community transmission, so within households and outside of the health care settings”.

“But it is essential that anyone who works in health care settings, if they have symptoms, no matter how mild, stays at home, does not go to work, arranges to get tested.

“People are obviously doing the very best that they can, and we support our health care workers in Victoria who are obviously providing essential services to the people there.”

Last week Guild Victorian branch president Anthony Tassone said that pharmacy was bracing itself for “round two” and called for Government assistance with the cost of temporarily shutting stores for deep cleaning should a staff member test positive.

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