With the recent outbreak of Covid-19 across the border in Victoria, Snowy Valleys councillor Geoff Pritchard has called for “sensible” virus prevention tactics such as social distancing and increased hygiene methods to make a comeback.
With a long background in medicine, including time at an infectious disease hospital, Cr Pritchard argues that we need to “continue to do the simple things” to combat the virus.
“This virus is not going to go away and I think we should be sensible and not be kissing each other or shaking hands,” he said.
“We should continue definitely changing our way of life so that when it bursts out again here, which it will inevitably do, we’re in a better position.”
Cr Pritchard said that there is often a period of time between the virus spreading in the community and it being identified through testing and contact tracing, which can be “quite a chore”, which is why social distancing and increased hygiene is still important to practice.
He is critical of the council’s decision to return to face-to-face meetings, rather than Zoom meetings, which have been occurring online since the pandemic began.
“I think it’s a terrible mistake,” Cr Pritchard said.
The retired surgeon is also critical of the federal government’s handling of the vaccination rollout.
“It’s a shambles, it really is a shambles; I’d hate to think how we’d handle a real crisis like going to war,” he said.
“It’s beyond comprehension that it could be taking so long.”
Cr Pritchard said that it is “unwise” not to have the Covid-19 vaccine and help promote herd immunity.
“There’s a very slight risk of blood clotting, but I mean, that’s a risk that occurs with any operation,” he said.
“People should have the vaccine; I’ve had it, the first dose, and it was just like having a flu vaccine.
“You just felt a bit off for a day or two, but it was no worse than that.”
Cr Pritchard said that his main concern with the vaccine is that it is too soon to know how much protection they actually provide against Covid-19.
He said that the pandemic, particularly the vaccine rollout, border issues and hotel quarantine, has demonstrated the “conflict” between federal and state health mechanisms.
“Half of it is administered by the state, and half is administered by the commonwealth,” Cr Pritchard said.
“Now that the states are becoming blurred, we should concentrate on reviewing the Constitution.”
He suggested an amalgamation of health services between state and federal governments so that health services could be “administered at a reasonable level across state borders.”
“Canberra itself is the major hospital in our part of the world, yet it’s in a different state,” Cr Pritchard said.
“Wagga [Base Hospital is] excellent up to a certain point, but it will never be big enough to have neurosurgeons, transplantations, things like that.”