The unlikely number one danger spot outside the home to catch Covid in Sydney is at your local pharmacy – but no lockdown will ever shut their doors.
There has been an explosion of cases where infected people have gone to their local chemist’s shop while contagious, horrifying NSW Health officials.
In the latest haul of 33 NSW exposure sites across the state, a staggering eight of them are chemists or pharmacies, spread all over Sydney.
The alerts include Chemist Warehouses in Bondi Junction, Fairfield and Punchbowl, a Priceline in Merrylands, Blooms in Miller and three other local pharmacies.
There has been an explosion of cases where infected people have gone to their local pharmacy while contagious, horrifying NSW Health officials (stock image)
Some have called for the current exercise restrictions to be tightened as part of a stricter lockdown, including more restricted retail hours (pictured, two women on Sydney’s Bay Run)
And the huge number sparked a dire warning from Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday.
She revealed there were 65 new cases in the city, and many of the 28 who had been in the community while infectious had been out and about shopping for medicine for their symptoms.
‘Pharmacists are the biggest source at the moment of people spreading the virus,’ she said.
She begged people who have symptoms to stay away from local drug stores and doctor’s surgeries to avoid spreading the disease further, especially as they could infect vulnerable people with other pre-existing conditions.
‘If you have symptoms or feeling sick, please, if you’re worried, call somebody, or get tested,’ she appealed. ‘Stay home, isolate and get the best medical and health advice.’
Exercising outside is completely safe, said Ms Berejiklian, and hasn’t caused a single case of transmission so far (pictured, two women on Sydney’s Bay Run)
The Premier appealed for anyone feeling ill to isolate and get tested rather than head to their local pharmacy. Seen here is a testing centre in Fairfield in Sydney’s south-west
She made the revelation in a bitter row with Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell who pushed her on whether making the lockdown even stricter would help it end sooner.
Ms Berejiklian rejected his claims, saying closing retail and restricting exercise would have little effect – stressing that exercise outside has so far proved completely safe.
She revealed: ‘I haven’t had presented to me a single example of transmission during actual [outdoor] exercise. I haven’t had a single example of that.’
But no matter how strict lockdowns become, even with a blanket ban on retail, pharmacies, like doctor’s surgeries, are unlikely to ever be closed down, despite the increasing risk of infection.
Pharmacies are set to play a larger key role in getting NSW and the rest of Australia out of the cycle of lockdowns by delivering vaccinations (pictured) once supplies become more available
The Premier begged people to stay away from local drug stores and doctor’s surgeries if they feel ill to avoid spreading the disease further. Seen here is a woman exercising on Sydney’s Bay Run
Instead they are set to play a key role in getting NSW and the rest of Australia out of the cycle of lockdowns.
Plans have already begun being put into operation to use local pharmacists to vaccinate the population in addition to vaccination hubs and medical centres.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has been working with the federal government to try to speed up the delivery of vaccinations when supplies allow.
They are confident they can avoid any in-store outbreaks, and want to play an even bigger part in accelerating the rollout.
People have also been turning up at medical centres while contagious, said the Premier. Seen here is the vaccination clinic Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital
‘We welcome governments bringing more pharmacists on board and call on governments nationwide to urgently activate more pharmacists,’ said National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman.
‘They have clear guidelines and Covid-Safe plans in place to effectively manage such situations. We are very confident they will help provide better access to the vaccine.
‘As supply of these highly-effective vaccines improves, it is crucial that governments permit all eligible pharmacists to start immunising today.’
Covid Australia: Eight of 33 NSW exposure sites are Sydney chemists or pharmacies