We should all be concerned about what is happening in Victoria at the moment. Yes, Tasmanians can be proud of our progress in flattening the curve. But this is no time for gloating.
On Saturday Victoria recorded another 12 deaths. Of these, six were linked to aged care facilities. Just as concerning, the number of healthcare workers with active coronavirus infections increased by 140 to 998.
So it’s hardly surprising the Commonwealth has issued an urgent request for assistance from qualified frontline staff. Still, news that Tasmanian nurses were among those asked to consider interstate deployment has raised concerns. Mostly, around ensuring personal safety and minimising risks of bringing COVID-19 back into the state.
However, it’s important to note that these are not new risks. In fact we have been dealing with these issues every day since the pandemic began. Further, the ability for Tasmania to assist in this crisis goes far beyond just a measure of goodwill. It is a matter of urgency.
If the shoe were on the other foot and it was us needing assistance, surely Tasmanians would want to know they could count on their interstate counterparts to help. After all, reducing COVID-19 back to a more manageable level nationally is in everyone’s interest.
We are also not the only state helping out. Last week South Australia sent its third contingent of nurses to assist Victoria’s coronavirus-impacted aged care facilities, and more are likely. Nothing is being forced upon frontline workers, and those willing to uproot their lives to help others should be commended and most importantly supported.
That being said, ensuring Tasmania’s own capacity to manage demand within the health service must also be prioritised. As pointed out by Health Minister Sarah Courtney on Saturday, this will take a balanced approach.
After all, we are still highly vulnerable to future cases of COVID-19. But if we have the capacity to lend a hand to Victoria, then by all means we should. Just as we should prioritise the health and safety of those putting their hand up to do so.
It’s also important to remember that while Tasmania is not being impacted by active coronavirus cases at the moment, any future prospects of reopening borders and resuming anything close to ‘normal’ travel freedoms ultimately depend on Victoria getting on top of these outbreaks.
Australia, indeed the world’s fight against COVID-19 has never been an “every man for himself” situation. We might be an island, but that doesn’t mean we should turn our backs on what is happening on the mainland.
What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor: