By Shelby Brooks

WONTHAGGI Amcal pharmacist and owner Everett O’Keeffe is calling on authorities to take steps to eradicate COVID-19, rather than just suppress it in Victoria.

Everett believes the Victorian governmentneeds to have a response “more useful and aggressive” to control COVID in the community.

“We seem to be a couple of weeks behind what we should be doing because they’re trying to balance out the economic factor,” Everett told the Sentinel-Times on Monday.

If his petition on Change.org gains enough support, he hopes the government will have more confidence to enforce measures to eradicate.

“We, the signatories to this petition, areconcerned citizens of Victoria and Australia,” reads the petition, posted on July 24.

“We acknowledge that there has been no single answer across the globe that combats COVID-19 effectively without significant hardship. We accept that some form of financial hardship will be part of eradication but are confident that the economic support payments will be suitably managed.

“We implore you to start a clear and decisive path to eradication of COVID-19 by all means necessary, as we believe that the ramifications of not doing so will cost us much more economically, personally and adversely affect the viability of our health service sector for potentially decades to come.”

Everett said the petition, which currently has 300 signatures, has had less support than he expected, though in person he has heard many people agree.

“The government also has to acknowledgethat you cannot tell a population what to do- that clearly hasn’t worked,” he said.

“I think we need an education campaignin the background which might make people want to comply with restrictions rather than forcing them with the threat of fine and jail time.”

Everett is also worried that the government hasn’t considering what the long-term effects of the virus has on recovered patients.

“We’re seeing reduce lung function andincreased cardio-vascular risks. This could have a huge burden on our health system.”

He said he was calling for a radius restriction for shopping and travel weeks ago, and that regional towns could have a similar radius to help follow contact tracing.

Everett has suggested each town in Bass Coast could have one larger feeding town nominated as the town those residents gettheir essential services from, so that tracingis simpler and easier.

“It’s harsh but it’s short-term pain forlong-term benefits,” he said.

“We’re at the tipping point where every-day counts.”

Head to change.org/p/the-hon-daniel-andrews-mp-premier-of-victoria-covid-19-eradication-in-australia to sign the petition and learn more.