Dr Rob Hackett outside Paddington Public School on Monday morning. Picture: Twitter/@kelliesloane
Dr Rob Hackett outside Paddington Public School on Monday morning. Picture: Twitter/@kelliesloane

Doctor dad’s virus protest outside school

A Sydney doctor has staged a protest outside a school urging other parents to keep their kids at home during the coronavirus pandemic because "lives depend on it".

This was despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison stating the Federal Government's advice against holding gatherings of 500 people or more didn't include schools or university lectures.

Anaesthetist Dr Rob Hackett was photographed outside Paddington Public School in the inner city on Monday morning.

The sign taped to his chest read: "If possible, please keep your children at home. Do not bring them to school. Lives depend on it. Government too slow to act."

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Speaking on Sunrise this morning, Dr Hackett said Australians needed to "aggressively get ahead of the curve as soon as possible" to minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"If you look at all the countries throughout the world, you can see the trajectory that we are on and it's the same one as Italy's," he told host David Koch.

"So at every juncture, we needed to have acted faster, so basically, taking the kids out of school, bringing them home.

"We need to be looking at those countries that are five, six or seven days ahead of us."

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Host David Koch and Dr Rob Hackett. Picture: Sunrise
Host David Koch and Dr Rob Hackett. Picture: Sunrise

Koch questioned Dr Hackett's perspective.

"Are you undermining our health authorities?" the host asked.

"With great respect … you are an anaesthetist, and what do you know about infectious diseases when we get the infectious diseases experts on and the chief medical officers?

"Aren't you sort of undermining parents and playing to their personal bias or fears?"

Dr Hackett said he had been listening to the "real experts" - frontline healthcare workers in Italy and China dealing with the disease - who "have been begging us to self-isolate".

"People are a lot more informed today, Kochie," he said.

"We're able to communicate with them directly and get all the information from them."

Koch interjected: "What, by googling what they are doing?"

Koch asked Dr Hackett if he was undermining Australian health authorities and parents. Picture: Sunrise
Koch asked Dr Hackett if he was undermining Australian health authorities and parents. Picture: Sunrise

 

 

Dr Hackett explained that he believed people hadn't heeded warnings to self-isolate because it was not an attractive proposition.

"We all like to hear what we want to hear. People don't like the idea of self-isolation at all," he said.

The anaesthetist said he wasn't calling for all children to be kept at home if it wasn't possible.

"Obviously, there are going to be people who cannot manage to do that. Put a skeletal staff in the schools and just have minimum staff looking after the minimum amount of people," he said.

"There will be, genuinely, people who cannot come home, and we don't want these children being looked after by the sick and the elderly. But this does not mean that we need to keep schools open and running as they do day to day."

Rob Hackett with his children Henry, 9, Paige, 9, and Isla, 12, who are self-isolating at their Paddington home. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Rob Hackett with his children Henry, 9, Paige, 9, and Isla, 12, who are self-isolating at their Paddington home. Picture: Jonathan Ng

 

 

The Prime Minister yesterday said he would be following national health advice.

Today host Karl Stefanovic described the advice about schools and banning mass gatherings as "confusing", asking whether the "only safe way" to prevent his children from getting the virus was to keep them at home.

"Well, that's not the medical advice, Karl. You're not a doctor and neither am I," Mr Morrison said.

"I trust the medical advice of those who are responsible for the medical health of our nation. They don't consider these things idly; they consider them very carefully."

Several cases of the virus have been confirmed in students or staff at a handful of schools across the country.

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton argued the decision not to close schools was based on how the disease presented in children and busy health and emergency workers being forced to look after their children.

"For children under nine years of age, it is an extremely mild disease," Mr Sutton said yesterday.

"My kids are in primary school and in childcare and I'm very happy for them to be there."

Earlier this week, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said schools would be introducing "proactive measures" to limit the spread of COVID-19, including the cancellation of assemblies, excursions and major sporting events.

 

- with AAP



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