The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is calling on state and territory governments to recognize that all veterinary services are heavily impacted and to implement National Cabinet Directives, so that veterinary teams have the flexibility to manage close contact to ensure that veterinary services can continue to be provided. .
“Veterinarians are highly skilled in infection control, they understand emergency disease responses and are able to manage the risk of infection. They are well positioned to be able to manage the risk associated with asymptomatic close contacts of Covid-19,” said Dr Cristy Secombe, AVA Veterinary and Public Affairs Manager.
The Australian Veterinary Association has surveyed the veterinary profession to understand the impact of Covid-19 on animal care across Australia. 23% of respondents indicated that animal welfare had been significantly negatively affected by COVID-19 restrictions over the past four weeks, and a further 47% said it had been affected somewhat.
In the states most affected by the Omicron variant, 87% of veterinary practices experienced staff shortages due to COVID-19, with 25% having to close for periods as a result and an additional 31% having to reduce their hours. This makes it increasingly difficult for pet owners to get veterinary appointments for their pets and places veterinary staff under incredible stress.
On average, 14% of veterinary teams are in quarantine following a COVID infection. However, an average of 26 per cent are quarantined as close contacts and could return to work caring for pets under current national cabinet guidelines.
“To enable veterinarians to provide veterinary care to all animals, including companion animals, we implore state governments to urgently change public health orders and reflect the guidance provided by the national cabinet in recognition that all veterinary services are heavily impacted. COVID 19 has exacerbated the pre-existing skills shortage within the veterinary profession and it is now coming to the point that some small animal emergencies cannot be addressed,” said Dr. Secombe.