The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is calling on state and territory governments to implement the national cabinet guidelines to allow veterinary teams flexibility in managing close contacts.

In the states most affected by Omicron, 87 per cent of veterinary practices have experienced shortages with a quarter having to close for periods and another 31 per cent having to reduce hours.

These impacts are making it increasingly difficult for owners to get veterinary appointments for their pets and is placing veterinary staff under a large amount of stress.

Dr. Cristy Secombe, AVA Head of Veterinary and Public Affairs, said veterinarians are highly trained in infection control, understand emergency disease responses and that they are well positioned to be able to manage the risk associated with asymptomatic close contacts of Covid-19.

“To allow veterinarians to provide veterinary care for all animals including pets we implore the state governments to urgently modify public health orders and reflect the guidance provided by national cabinet in recognition that all veterinary services are highly impacted.

“Covid-19 has worsened the pre-existing skills shortage within the veterinary profession and it’s now getting to the point that some small animal emergencies cannot be treated.”

Currently an average of 14 per cent of veterinary teams are quarantining due to being infected with Covid, while 26 per cent are quarantining as close contacts and could return to work under the current national cabinet guidelines.