The federal opposition has called for clarity over COVID-19 messaging after health advice to increase mask use and to work from home where appropriate.
Opposition health spokeswoman Anne Ruston said inconsistency in the government’s messaging has made it harder for Australians to understand why changes are necessary.
“There has been quite a lot of mixed messaging out there. A lot of Australians are very fatigued about having to continually make changes in their lives,” Senator Ruston said.
She also called for more transparency about why health decisions were being made.
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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said a reintroduction of mask mandates wasn’t on the table at the most recent national cabinet meeting amid concerns about an upcoming virus wave.
He said the chief medical officer hadn’t advocated for a mandate.
“The clear decision of the AHPPC, the peak body where you get all the state and territory chief health officers together with the chief medical officer, Professor (Paul) Kelly, haven’t advocated that to me at all,” Mr Albanese told the ABC on Thursday.
“The other thing you need to bear in mind is the mental health aspects of restrictions on people’s behaviour. We need to get the balance right, and … that’s something the chief health officers have borne in mind.”
The comments come a day after Prof Kelly warned case numbers and hospitalisations would continue to increase.
Mr Albanese also raised concerns about the enforcement of any mandates, which remain in place on public transport in NSW and Victoria.
“The question is, are people complying with them? There’s no good having a mandate unless it’s enforced,” he said.
AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the chief health officers of states and territories needed to “consider a mandate” to get people wearing masks and steady the spread of the virus.
“If we as a community, do the right thing and if governments step up and make the mandates that they need to make at the time that they’re necessary, then we’re the best chance of navigating this without a health system that collapses around this,” he said.
There were 55,602 cases recorded across the country in the 24 hours to 6am on Thursday.
More than 300,000 cases were recorded in Australia in the past week.
LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:
NSW: 13,829 cases, 25 deaths, 2210 in hospital with 55 in ICU
Victoria: 14,312 cases, 37 deaths, 875 in hospital with 46 in ICU
Queensland: 11,687 cases, 10 deaths, 1034 in hospital with 21 in ICU
Tasmania: 1684 cases, two deaths, 193 in hospital with two in ICU
WA: 6960 cases, seven deaths, 459 in hospital with 22 in ICU
SA: 5054 cases, seven deaths, 354 in hospital with 12 in ICU
NT: 669 cases, no deaths, 70 in hospital with one in ICU
ACT: 1407 cases, one death, 165 in hospital with three in ICU