Victorians have been urged to turn on each other and ‘call out’ strangers who have the sniffles in public and demand they get tested for coronavirus.
Jeroen Weimar, the deputy secretary for the Victorian Department of Health, made the recommendation amid decreasing testing numbers since the state’s fourth lockdown was lifted on Friday.
Just over 15,000 people turned out to get a Covid test on Friday, but authorities are hoping to see numbers north of 20,000 each and every day.
Mr Weimar, who has been dubbed Victoria’s ‘Covid Commander’, warned people could be infected with Covid without knowing.
Jeroen Weimar, the deputy secretary for the Victorian Department of Health, made the recommendation on Saturday amid decreasing testing numbers since the state’s fourth lockdown lifted on Friday
Just over 15,000 people turned out to get a Covid test on Friday, but authorities are hoping to see numbers north of 20,000 each and every day
‘We know that, this time of year, a lot of us are going to start getting colds and sore throats and sniffles,’ he said.
‘If your employees are coming to work symptomatically, send them home to get tested immediately. If you’re being served by people who are symptomatic, call them out in the nicest possible way…
‘If you’ve got people at home who are walking around sniffling and saying “I’ve just got a cold”, ask them if they’ve had a test.’
But that advice was critiqued by the Australian Medical Association, which urged authorities not to encourage the public to become self appointed ‘Covid police’.
AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said it was possible a person could display Covid-like symptoms for conditions that are relatively harmless and not infectious.
Melburnians have just escaped their fourth Covid lockdown, but plenty of restrictions will remain in place. Pictured: Diners on the first day of eased restrictions, June 11
Pictured: A usually busy Melbourne arcade during lockdown
‘We are reluctant to encourage people to be Covid police – and if everyone does the right thing there will be no need to intrude on other people’s privacy,’ he said.
The state opposition’s health spokeswoman, Georgie Crozier, said Mr Weimar’s language was ‘inflammatory and alarmist’.
‘Jeroen Weimar has a habit of using inflammatory language, but urging Victorians to dob in one another will do nothing to instill public confidence in the Andrews government,’ she said.
‘It’s unreasonable to expect hospitality, or anyone else, to do the policing of this, especially when every second person will have a sniffle, because it is winter. This is un-Australian, nasty, and divisive and it’s the wrong approach.’
Mr Weimar, who has been dubbed Victoria’s ‘Covid Commander’, warned people could be infected with Covid without knowing and encouraged people to continue to get tested
Australians will likely continue having to endure snap Covid lockdowns even as vaccination numbers rise. Pictured: Australian swimmer Cate Campbell receiving her Pfizer vaccine
The bizarre advice out of Melbourne comes just two weeks after South Australian chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier urged fans at an AFL match not to catch the ball if it hurtled toward them because it could be contaminated by Covid-19.
She gave the extraordinary advice while simultaneously giving the green light for AFL club Collingwood to enter the state from Melbourne and for crowds to attend despite a Covid outbreak in Victoria at the time.
‘Not that I’ve been to many football games, but I have noticed occasionally it does get kicked into the crowd,’ she said at the time.
‘If the ball comes towards you, my advice is to duck and do not touch that ball.’