‘Half-baked’: Fears new testing scheme will spread virus


THE pharmacists' union is ready to blockade chemists preparing to carry out COVID testing under a "half-baked" and "crazy" state government plan it says will help spread the deadly virus.

The Professional Pharmacists of Australia and Australian Medical Association have combined to vehemently oppose the plan to allow COVID-19 testing to take place at community pharmacists, which they say will have disastrous consequences.

But Health Minister Steven Miles maintains allowing community pharmacists to test "minimally symptomatic" people could catch cases faster.

Professional Pharmacists of Australia Queensland director Adam Kerslake said his members were prepared to tape chemists up with danger tape and use Workplace Health and Safety laws to close "petri-dish" workplaces.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)
Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)

"Until it's safe we cannot support it, we will not support it," Mr Kerslake told The Courier-Mail. "If our people get infected, get sick and die, we're not having that.

"It's a flashpoint, if we don't act now and run a really strong campaign to stop that, it will be in every pharmacy in the county in a short time and our people will be getting infected.

"Our people are freaking out. We've done survey after survey - 80 to 90 per cent of people are opposed to this."

He said encouraging infected people into retail spaces was "crazy" and didn't pass the pub test. "We're not going to compromise," he said. "We think it's half-baked."

Australian Medical Association federal president Dr Omar Khorshid wrote to Mr Miles last week to warn him that COVID-19 testing in pharmacies "is dangerous and poses unacceptable risks".

"Allowing sick people to wander through retail centres is just one example of the way the state government is ignoring sound medical advice from doctors and placing Queenslanders at risk," AMA Queensland president Dr Chris Perry said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Mr Miles should invest in more COVID-19 testing centres, which had trained staff and the necessary PPE such as head coverings, face shields, masks and gowns, he said.

The trial is backed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia - a lobby group that represents pharmacy owners.

Mr Miles said testing capacity was critical to fight COVID-19.

"Community pharmacies are often trusted places in communities across Queensland, including regional and remote areas," he said.

"That is why we're trialling testing availability to pharmacies to make accessing a COVID-19 test even easier for Queenslanders."

Details of the trial, including a start date, are still being finalised.

Originally published as 'Half-baked': Fears new testing scheme will spread virus