PM defends lowering COVID isolation period

Despite criticism from health experts, the prime minister says the lowering of mandatory isolation periods for COVID to five days was a necessary move.

Despite criticism from health experts, the prime minister says the lowering of mandatory isolation periods for COVID to five days was a necessary move. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has defended moves to lower the mandatory isolation period for positive COVID cases, as some leaders call for the measure to be scrapped entirely.

National cabinet earlier this week agreed to lower the mandatory isolation period from seven to five days, which will come into effect from next Friday.

While the health experts have come out against the move, calling for the health advice to be released, Mr Albanese said the changes were necessary.

“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 told ABC TV on Friday

However, 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.

The prime minister said it was important that mandated restrictions be reviewed and gradually eased over time as more people are vaccinated.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet called for the isolation reduction to go further, advocating for its removal entirely.

He said the mandatory isolation should end “as soon as possible”.

“I believe we need to move away from public health orders, we need to move … to a system in which we’ll respect each other – if you’re sick you stay at home, if you’re not sick go to work,” he told Sky News on Friday.

“The state should not be enforcing these orders at this time in the pandemic.”

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.

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.

She said Mr Albanese had promised to be more transparent in terms of national cabinet.

The changes in isolation rules will also coincide with an end to mask mandates on domestic flights.

Western Australia will also remove the mandatory mask rules for public transport from next Friday, but will still remain in effect in high-risk settings such as hospitals.

Friday saw more than 10,000 new cases of COVID reported nationally, along with 42 deaths from the virus.


NSW: 4169 cases, 21 deaths, 1726 in hospital with 36 in ICU

Victoria: 2393 cases, 17 deaths, 295 in hospital with 13 in ICU

Tasmania: 189 cases, no deaths, 26 in hospital with two in ICU

NT: 98 cases, two deaths, 19 in hospital with none in ICU

ACT: 163 cases, one death, 91 in hospital with none in ICU

QLD: 1794 cases, one death, 285 in hospital with 12 in ICU

WA: 1200 cases, 13 deaths, 215 in hospital with six in ICU

SA: 558 cases, three deaths, 105 in hospital with five in ICU

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