The doctor who kicked Josh Frydenberg out of his Kooyong constituency has urged Liberal MPs to ‘put on your masks’ after being mocked on the floor of parliament.
Independent Dr Monique Ryan rose to ask her first question during Monday’s Question Time – her chosen topic being the impact of Covid – and cut through the rowdy interjections.
While wearing a mask is recommended, it is not compulsory inside parliament, and it is largely non-existent on the opposition benches.
A former pediatric neurologist, Dr Ryan quizzed Health Minister Mark Butler about the risk that repeated Covid infections could lead to long-term side effects.
“Repeat Covid-19 infections can be more severe and carry a high risk of persisting symptoms for up to six months, as well as an increased risk of hospitalization and death,” she said.
“There is an increasing risk of cumulative neurological and cardiovascular disease from Covid-19 infections.
“Can the Minister explain how he proposes to manage the significant national burden of disability and chronic disease due to repeated infections?”
As she was mocked by some MPs, she fired back, “Put on your masks”, pointing to the opposition benches.
In response, the Minister of Health said he was satisfied that the large number of health professionals in Parliament “will give depth to our health policy.
“This pandemic is still ravaging our community,” he said.
“In particular, as the MP pointed out, people must wear masks when they are indoors and they cannot be socially distant.
“Long Covid is not easy to diagnose or treat.
“The truth, Mr President, is that we do not know the scale of the challenge. A common estimate (is that) around 4% of Covid patients have long-term symptoms, (which) already extends to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Australians.
“Assistance is available through our standard medical system. States have been operating Covid clinics for a long time. Their waiting lists are growing. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that we will need to develop a targeted national response to the phenomenon of the long Covid.
“I want to continue discussions with the MP for Kooyong and other members of this place about this long-term, profound health issue which is proving so debilitating and distressing to so many Australians.”
Dr Ryan then tweeted her remark to Coalition MPs, saying she ‘didn’t appreciate being interrupted as she spoke about the serious risks of repeat Covid infections’.
“I particularly resent being interrupted by screams from LNP MPs who refuse to wear masks. We all have a duty to look out for each other, here and everywhere. Put on your mask!” she wrote.
Originally published as Monique Ryan tells MPs to ‘put on their masks’ while asking Covid questions in parliament