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Doctors baffled about health advice as PM defends iso call

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says shortening the mandatory COVID isolation period was a “necessary decision”, despite the Australian Medical Association saying doctors were “scratching their heads” about what health advice was given.

Health Minister Mark Butler and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. File image: AAP /Mick Tsikas

Health Minister Mark Butler and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. File image: AAP /Mick Tsikas

National cabinet on Wednesday agreed to lower the isolation time for positive cases from seven to five days, which will come into effect from next Friday, September 9.

While the move has prompted concern from health bodies, Albanese said people should be able to return to work if they don’t feel sick after the five-day period.

“It is, on the balance of where we’re at, a necessary change to take place and one that was supported by all states and territories,” he said on Friday.

“If people aren’t contagious, they’re not sick, they don’t have any symptoms, after five days and they want to be at work, their employers want them to be at work as well.”

But the Australian Medical Association has called on the prime minister to release the health advice provided to national cabinet that justified the isolation period changes.

The association’s president Steve Robson urged the government not to treat the virus like other infectious diseases.

Professor Robson said the association had not been consulted ahead of the announcement, and that doctors were “scratching their heads on what this advice is”.

However, the prime minister said the release of health advice would be a matter for the states.

“The chief health officers in every state are responsible for their respective advices, so that’s a matter for the state governments as to whether that happens or not,” he said.

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“One of the discussions we had as well was that the flu and various other diseases, infections that are around, people manage over a period of time, they manage their health in consultation with their doctors.”

The prime minister said it was important that mandated restrictions be reviewed and gradually eased over time.

“We can’t continue to have the sort of restrictions which were there early on, and one of the reasons why that is possible is because people have gone out there and got themselves vaccinated,” he said.

Education Minister Jason Clare told the Seven Network the move to lower isolation times was the right decision.

“Most Aussies would say this is the right call at this time in the pandemic, it’s been going for about 2.5 years,” he said.

“Most Aussies are vaccinated and we are now through the peak of the latest wave.”

However, deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said the health advice needed to be published.

“While instinctively it feels like a good thing, what’s wrong with explaining the detail of the health advice so everyone can have the same level of reassurance?” she told the Seven Network.

“Before coming to government, Anthony Albanese said he would publish what comes out of national cabinet and instruments of transparency – perhaps that does need to happen.”

-with AAP

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