wearing the mask
At the beginning of the epidemic, recognizing that medical experts, especially epidemiologists, were influencing public opinion, the Morrison government offered them a way to influence government policy in private.
In April 2020, Health Secretary Greg Hunt established the National Advisory Committee on Health and Research on COVID-19, which reports to the chief medical officer, now Paul Kelly.
Leading OzSage members joined the panel, including Raina MacIntyre, an infectious disease expert at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute who has emerged as a hard-line public advocate for the suppression of COVID-19.
Last year, Professor MacIntyre, at a committee meeting, suggested that the federal government recommend masks be worn inside private residences to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among family members, according to a person present.
The source said the committee, which includes MPs from both the government and the Labor Party, did not raise the idea to Mr Hunt or Professor Kelly. Professor MacIntyre said she was not authorized to comment on the committee’s work.
Early this month, Professor McIntyre’s proposal was included in a written advice issued by OzSage, which includes about 74 members of the highest ranks in medicine and academia.
the document, Ten steps to reduce the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at home, recommends closing the front doors of apartments with duct tape and wearing masks in common areas.
“Open the bathroom windows and flush them with a closed toilet lid,” the message read. “Use physical distancing where possible. Make a plan for how to isolate from others in your home if you do become infected.”
Fiona Russell, a pediatrician in Melbourne who has criticized the group, has asked for evidence that the virus can be spread via toilet spray. She said closing toilets was not realistic in some families.
“I’ve been working on it for 20 years & Even death threats from omicron have not changed [sic] This, she tweeted this week.
It is difficult to judge the effect of OzSage after four months of its existence. On January 2, an information breach occurred, when some of its members inadvertently started an internal discussion on an email chain that included 43 journalists, including ABC medical correspondent Norman Swann.
Intensive care physician at Westmead Hospital Tom Solano suggested the group make a statement about the use of triage – treating patients first – to determine who should access intensive care wards, a politically sensitive topic used by doctors in the NSW Health Service. Not intended for public discussion.
“Any public decisions that turn the triage process into a catastrophic model must occur at the department level, must be adopted uniformly across the city/state and must only occur when all available resources are exhausted,” wrote Dr. Solano.
“No rest for the wicked, Thomas!” Answered David Caldecott, an emergency physician at Calvary Hospital in Canberra. The literature from disaster medicine regarding triage & Limited resources are well established and very useful in this field.”
A spokeswoman for the NSW Department of Health said it had no plans to take any action against Dr Solano.
OzSage’s latest advice is to delay the start of classroom instruction for elementary and high school students and reverse more flexible close contact rules.