Russell Schneider AM GAICD, President of the Eurobodalla Coastal Alliance (ECA) and ex-Board Member of Southern NSW Local Health District Health, is calling for a public inquiry into the latest outbreak of Covid in Batemans Bay and surrounding districts.
Mr Schneider AM said the inquiry should look at how, during a period of lockdown, cases of Covid came to Eurobodalla and what steps were taken (or should have been taken) to minimise this risk to the community.
"The scope of the enquiry should determine if there were failures in procedures, protocols or communications which allowed the outbreak to occur as well as establishing what action has since been taken to minimise the chance of a recurrence
“Any inquiry would not seek to invade the privacy of anyone suffering or spreading the illness,” Mr Schneider said.
“Our concern is with the processes that have allowed it to occur and that measures are taken to avoid it happening again.
“It is pleasing that no new cases have been reported in the last two days, but that may depend on how many tests were carried out.”
Mr Schneider accepted it was probably inevitable that Covid would break out in Eurobodalla at some time, however, with a view to minimizing risk, the vast majority of residents and those few businesses that remained open were conforming to lock down rules, including mask wearing, social distancing, minimal travel and registration, either digital or written, when shopping etc.
“The circumstances around the outbreak suggested that policies and protocols to prevent Covid entering Eurobodalla from outside the area were either not in place or not properly applied.
“The real victims of this latest outbreak aren’t just the residents, but particularly the hard working dedicated front line health workers who are already stressed and overworked. The community is particularly concerned that they, contact tracers, paramedics and police are facing extra demands on them which may have been avoided,” he said.
“The community is entitled to an explanation of whether proper rules were in place to minimize entry of Covid into Eurobodalla, and if so whether any agency or official failed to conform with them.
“If more rules are needed that should be done as a matter of urgency and all officials and agencies are compelled to apply them.
“The community also needs reassurance that steps are and will be taken to minimize the prospect of further outbreaks.
“It can not be stressed any louder than the need for residents to provide digital or other registration whenever possible to simplify the task for contract tracers.”
Russell Schneider AM GAICD is the president of the Eurobodalla Coastal Alliance and an ex Board Member of Southern NSW Local Health District Health and was CEO of the Australian Health Insurance Association from 1983 to 2006. Before that he was Canberra Bureau Chief and Political Correspondent for The Australian between 1978 and 1983 during which time he wrote two books and a weekly column on politics. He was a director of a major health insurer from 2006 until 2017 and has been adviser to a Federal Minister