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Richard Riordan MP: Coronavirus inquiry finds doctors left in the dark on Cedar Meats

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

The heated exchanges came as a parliamentary inquiry recommended new laws so that information about people's health could be disclosed if it was in the interests of public health, after issues around the outbreak at Cedar Meats.

An interim report by the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee into the Government's response to the pandemic has made 23 recommendations to Government.

The committee examined the Cedar Meats outbreak, which came to public attention in May but may have begun with a case in a worker on April 2.

The coronavirus outbreak at Cedar Meats in Melbourne's west has been linked to more than 100 cases.(ABC News: Sean Warren)

The report found the Health Records Act had, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), limited its ability to notify staff at Cedar Meats of the initial positive case, who had told DHHS they had not spent time at the abattoir while infectious.

As a result, it recommended the Government "consider options" to amend the Act "to more effectively facilitate the provision of warnings and contact tracing during pandemics and other public health emergencies".

The coronavirus outbreak at Cedar Meats in Melbourne's west has been linked to more than 100 cases.(ABC News: Sean Warren)

The report also highlighted concerns expressed by Australian Medical Association Victoria president Julian Rait that general practitioners were learning about the Cedar Meats cluster in April through people presenting for testing, not through being informed by public health teams.

It recommended DHHS establish better protocols to communicate with doctors during the pandemic.

It also called for more information to be released around the Government's rent relief program, economy support programs and for an evaluation of the effectiveness of the state's pandemic plan.

A minority report authored by Opposition MPs Richard Riordan, Danny O'Brien and Bridget Vallence accused the majority report of glossing over Government failures and failing to hold it to account.

The Coalition MPs said the integrity of the report had been "severely compromised" by the Andrews Government's decision to create a committee dominated and chaired by Labor MPs.

It said the committee should have been reconvened to examine for itself the role that failures in hotel quarantine played in fuelling the latest wave of infections.

"Unless the Government is willing to learn from the mistakes it has made, it will be condemned to make them again," it said.

Meanwhile, the judicial inquiry examining the state's hotel quarantine program announced it would hold an extraordinary hearing on Wednesday to provide advice on the impact the recently imposed state of disaster would have on its activities.

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