A high number of health care workers in isolation and overwhelmed hospitals could result in a radical change to the isolation period of Covid-positive healthcare workers, according to one NSW doctor.
TikTok user and doctor Imogen posted a video predicting in just a matter of weeks health care workers could be told to work, even if they return a positive Covid test.
"A couple of days ago NSW Health changed their policies so that if you're a healthcare worker, and also a close contact of Covid you're not actually a close contact anymore and you can still go to work and interact with patients," she explained.
"The reason [this] has happened is because when 20,000 people a day are being diagnosed with Covid, the proportion of those people that work in healthcare is really, really high."
Imogen continued saying it means they are "completely understaffed".
"Everyone's busy focusing on the number of hospitalisations, the number of ICU cases and that's what really counts, but if we don't have a health workforce because our entire workforce either has Covid or is a close contact," she continued.
"Eventually it will become a case of [everyone] has Covid, then we're kind of f**ked."
According to Imogen, scrapping isolation for Covid positive healthcare workers is only weeks away.
"I honestly think it will be a fortnight maybe a little bit longer before they decide that healthcare workers who are asymptomatic should go to work even if they do have Covid," she said.
"The system just can't cope with that many healthcare workers unable to work."
Definition of close contact changed
On Friday night, NSW Health announced asymptomatic health workers who are in isolation due to being a close contact of a positive case will be permitted to leave isolation in "exceptional circumstances".
The exemption to the public health order signed off by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard means close contacts can leave self-isolation to attend work if they have been identified by their employer as critical and cannot work from home.
The exemption only allows them to go from home to work and if they develop symptoms they have to get a PCR test and can't return to work until they test negative.
Last week, isolation periods for Covid-positive cases and close contacts were slashed with positive cases able to leave isolation seven days after their positive test as long as they return a negative rapid antigen test on day six, regardless of vaccination status will be.
A close contact will only cover household or intimate contacts who spent more than four hours with a positive case, and they will only need a rapid antigen test and will be able to leave isolation after seven days if they return a negative rapid antigen test on day six.
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