Senior surgeon at Shoalhaven District Hospital, Professor Martin Jones said he was concerned and his "heart dropped" at suggestions the regions would be opened up to Sydneysiders from next Monday.
"I'm sure most of my colleagues throughout NSW hearts' sank when they heard the discussion about opening up on Thursday," he said.
With NSW reaching the 70 per cent vaccinated rate, a number of our COVID restrictions are being lifted from October 11.
One of the reported easing of restrictions, which has since been clarified to not be the case, was that Sydneysiders would be free to travel to the regions on day visits and vice versa, regional residents could travel into Greater Sydney.
The news was part of new Premier Doninic Perrottet's roadmap out of lockdown announced on Thursday.
However, the following health orders were far from clear and for a period of time confusion reigned.
It has since been revealed any opening up to Sydney will not be possible until the state reaches 80 per cent vaccination rate.
Mine and I'm sure most of my colleagues throughout NSW hearts' sank when they heard the discussion about opening up on Thursday.Professor Martin Jones
"Next Monday there will be approx 2 million people in NSW unvaccinated. The joy of opening this state needs to be tempered by the 1000's of people who will need to attend funerals over the next 6 months for those killed by this virus. And it won't just be the unvaccinated!" his tweet said.
Next Monday there will be approx 2 million people in NSW unvaccinated.— Martin jones (@Martinj70070576) October 6, 2021
The joy of opening this state needs to be tempered by the 1000’s of people who will need to attend funerals over the next 6 months for those killed by this virus- & it won’t be just the unvaccinated!
Speaking on ABC Illawarra, in response to the question if he thought it was too early to open up, Professor Jones said he "thankfully wasn't a politician".
"Combining health, politics and economics is a very difficult task and I'm glad I'm not doing that," he said.
"But we know the problems from overseas, we know what has happened to populations that have opened up at less than 70 per cent and less than 80 per cent totally vaccinated.
"We're talking about NSW being 70 per cent vaccinated in the over 16s, we're not talking about the younger ones at this point in time. I do think we need to get that group of young adults involved in the vaccination process.
"They are doing very well but that's when we can start thinking about opening up parts of the state to each other to have face to face contact.
Everyone from Kerry Chant down to the kitchen staff at Shoalhaven Hospital, all the health workers are working for one thing, to protect the population of NSW.Professor Martin Jones
"It's a difficult task, I don't have the answer but I do think it's not 70 per cent vaccination in the over 16s."
He said there would be "more deaths than we would normally have during this period because of the virus".
"A very major concern is that double vaccinated people, who are at high risk, are still getting the virus through our region," he said.
"One would hope the six people at Tarrawanna, who at the present time have tested positive to the virus, will do very well but they're double vaccinated.
"I think the opening up vision, especially to Sydney would see those people at high risk and those with other illnesses at a risk to any sort virus, would be put in the situation where they may be needing intensive care and possibly die - we hope that's not the case.
Combining health, politics and economics is a very difficult task and I'm glad I'm not doing that.Professor Martin Jones
"We are certainly training very hard at this point in time to make sure all the patients are well."
He said Premier Perrottet's roadmap press conference was "Interesting".
"The Health Minister wasn't even going to speak for a while and was then sixth in the line to speak, so there was an obvious change in the way the priorities have been placed by our new premier," he said.
"It worried me enormously that we had changed some of the process of coming out of the current restrictions. From Kerry Chant down to the kitchen staff at Shoalhaven Hospital, all the health workers are working for one thing, to protect the population of NSW.
"They are doing all sorts of amazing things and I do think if the Premier could see the fact surgical staff are in intensive care training to look after ventilators and we have very good casualty staff being trained on ventilation as well."
Professor Jones said staff being used across a variety of departments to combat the virus had led to a reduction in surgery.
Health professionals are doing all sorts of amazing things. Surgical staff are in intensive care training to look after ventilators and we have very good casualty staff being trained on ventilation as well. Everyone is giving their all to keep the NSW population safe."Professor Martin Jones
"With staff now in intensive care it has meant we have gone from five operating theatres down to two and that also means our patients are paying the price as well, as we can't offer as many operations as we could pre COVID," he said.
"There is a huge amount of focus on treatment, caring and everyone is giving their all to keep the NSW population safe."
Professor Jones said communities needed to remain careful and he didn't know how double vaccinations was going to "be policed".
"It's something that needs to be taken into consideration," he said.
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