Wednesday, April 24, 2024

WA to send top health official to VIC

Western Australia is providing support to Victoria as it tackles a concerning increase in COVID-19 cases, deploying one of the State’s most experienced public health physicians, Professor Tarun Weeramanthri (pictured).

Professor Weeramanthri is the former Chief Health Officer of the Western Australian Department of Health and has been assisting the Western Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet in a health liaison role during the pandemic.

“It’s because of everyone’s hard work across Western Australia, that means we are in a position to provide support to Victoria, in their time of need,” said WA Premier, Mark McGowan.

“The escalation in COVID-19 cases in Victoria is a major concern and we are now assisting with their contact tracing. We have also offered additional support, if required,” he said.

“The evolving situation in Victoria is a timely reminder of how easily the virus can start spreading – we all have a personal responsibility here in WA to practice good hygiene and keep following the health guidelines, now more than ever.”

From today, Professor Weeramanthri has been seconded to Victoria’s Health and Human Services for an initial four-week period, and it is anticipated that he will assist with the operational and strategic management of their public health response.

The role is likely to include rostered period of relief for the Chief Health Officer and Deputy Chief Health Officer, leadership for government and media briefings, and operational oversight of outbreak management and contact tracing work. 

Professor Weeramanthri has contributed to many national disaster and health responses including the 2009 influenza pandemic, Ashmore Reef disaster, Mumbai bombings, Pakistan floods, and major earthquakes in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. 

He has also worked with the World Health Organisation in Sierra Leone and Iraq, co-ordinating the activities of foreign medical teams after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and co-ordinating trauma services around the Mosul offensive.

“Professor Weeramanthri has an outstanding list of career highlights demonstrating his great skill in dealing with significant and highly varied disasters and public health crises and I anticipate his contribution to the Victorian response will be highly valuable and appreciated,” said Health Minister, Roger Cook.

“The contact tracing support we are providing brings together public health physicians, doctors, nurses, epidemiologists and support staff whose role in liaising with COVID-19 positive patients and identifying close contacts at risk of contracting the virus has been critical in curbing the virus in WA.”

Western Australian Department of Health contact tracing teams are also remotely assisting Victoria in establishing key information about cases and identifying close contacts. 

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