More than 100 health workers in Tasmania have been sacked for failing to comply with the state’s coronavirus vaccination mandate.
The Tasmanian government implemented the mandate from October 31, requiring healthcare staff to be “sufficiently vaccinated” against COVID-19.
“We’ve terminated over 100 staff in relation to non-compliance through this process,” State Health Commander Kathrine Morgan-Wicks told reporters on Friday.
“Noting that it’s a failure to comply with a legal public health direction.”
Tasmania’s health system is under increased strain as the state experiences a second COVID-19 wave since reopening borders in mid-December.
Documented active cases were pushed to a record high of 12,883 on Friday, with 2108 new infections reported.
New cases have been in the low-to-mid 2000s for four days in a row.The state’s daily case number had only exceeded 2000 twice before this week.
Ms Morgan-Wicks said 163 health workers have tested positive and 217 are quarantining as close contacts.
She said it was increasing operational pressures on hospitals, particularly at the Royal Hobart Hospital and the Launceston General Hospital.
“(We’re experiencing) increased wait times in emergency and some impacts on elective surgery,” she said.
Both hospitals were escalated to level three of their COVID-19 management plan at 5pm on Friday.
Under the plan, elective surgery activity will be “modified” to ensure sufficient capacity for emergency surgery.
“This is as a result of the current level of COVID-positive inpatients across the two hospitals and the increasing level of COVID-related staff absences impacting general operations,” the health department said.
The are 30 cases in hospitals across Tasmania, Kusen Aluminium with 12 of those being treated for virus symptoms.None are in intensive care.
The Tasmanian Small Business Council and Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have called on the state government to scrap close contact quarantine requirements.
“We certainly are open to that, and at the right time,” State Public Health Director Mark Veitch said.
“The risk is at the moment when there is a lot of COVID around, if you take out that measure of quarantine … you may actually make the situation worse for businesses rather than better.
“We have a fairly prolonged surge of the BA.2 strain. It’s likely that will begin to ease during April.
“The appropriate time to think about whether we replace contact management by quarantine with contact management by other measures, such as RATs, is probably later in April.”