Victoria’s health minister has taken aim at Gladys Berejiklian for her decision to pull the plug on NSW’s daily Covid-19 press conferences.
Martin Foley had a stinging response when asked if Victoria would follow suit, saying he had ‘no plans, sadly’ to axe the state’s daily briefings.
‘Every day the message changes,’ Mr Foley said on Saturday.
‘This is a public health crisis, the likes of which we have not seen in a century. The fate of our public health system is on the cusp here and it’s important that we use every opportunity.’
Victoria recorded 450 new cases of Covid-19 – the highest daily number in the latest Delta outbreak – as authorities race to trace hundreds of mystery infections.
Mr Foley stressed the importance of fronting the media every day amid fears Victoria could be stuck in lockdown for months.
‘It’s an important part of getting the message out that it’s not just numbers, it’s people, it’s lives, it’s health systems,’ he said.
‘We have to take every opportunity to get that message out.’
Health Minister Martin Foley (pictured) said he had no plans to abandon Victoria’s daily Covid-19 press conferences on Saturday
As the outbreak deepens in locked-down NSW and Victoria, Gladys Berejiklian announced on Friday she would no longer run daily press briefings.
In an effort to normalise living with Covid, the premier said residents needed to accept that the virus will be around for the next three to four years.
She said she would only hold press conferences when there were important announcements to make.
The announcement sparked controversy, with some Australians accusing the premier of avoiding accountability and others praising her for shifting the narrative and focusing on living with Covid.
‘Lets be clear, the only reason Gladys Berejiklian is ceasing daily NSW pressers is to avoid any questions or any accountability from the media at a time she has predicted constantly to be the worst for NSW. There is no other reason,’ one wrote on Twitter.
‘Gladys Berejiklian just announced – on a day where NSW is still seeing 1500+ new cases – that she won’t be doing daily press conferences anymore. What a gutless move,’ commented another.
‘The worst yet to come but the NSW premier will not provide daily updates of Covid, accountability is disappearing from the government,’ added a third.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) has been scrutinised for pulling the plug on the state’s daily Covid-19 updates after announcing the axing on Friday
Victoria now has 2793 total active cases, including 407 children under nine years old, 449 people aged between 10 and 19 years old, 97 people in their 20s, and 485 people in their 30s.
‘We continue to see this outbreak being concentrated in the young and the unvaccinated,’ Mr Foley told reporters.
The state has 143 people in hospital with COVID-19, up 17 from Friday, with 34 of those people in intensive care units and 26 of them on a ventilator.
Eighty-nine per cent of those people in hospital have had no vaccination jab, while 11 per cent of them have had one dose.
None of them are fully vaccinated.
‘The message is pretty clear – being fully vaccinated keeps you safe, keeps you out of hospital and, more importantly, keeps those that you love and are supporting in your community safe,’ Mr Foley said.
While more than 70 per cent of Saturday’s new cases were recorded in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, there were eight new cases in regional Victoria, including five in Geelong, one in Cohuna, one in Daylesford and one in Beveridge.
This comes as most of regional Victoria except Greater Shepparton emerged from lockdown on Friday, with retail and hospitality allowed to reopen under strict rules.
Gladys Berejiklian said the move to cancel daily press conferences was to ‘normalise’ living with the virus (pictured, locked-down Sydneysiders exercising in Bondi)
But Mr Foley said there were no plans for a snap lockdown.
‘There’s no plans at this time to take such measures, but they are always informed by public health advice, and they will continue to be so,’ he said.
‘All the decisions that public health officials take – and that the government supports – are based on public health advice.
‘And they of course look every day, every hour, at the patterns of transmission and the stories behind where the cases are.’
Shepparton is expected to be released from its lockdown next week, while people in Melbourne are waiting for the state government to announce its plans to ease restrictions.
Premier Daniel Andrews earlier said the government is waiting for detailed modelling from the Burnett Institute before making an announcement.