There are no recorded cases of community transmission in the Southern Highlands and total case numbers remain unchanged for the 15th day.
This is the latest message from the Southern Highlands Division of General Practice.
However division spokesman Dr Vince Roche said it was "definitely no time to relax" and pointed to the "sudden pick up" in cases in Victoria over the last couple of days.
- Police seek help to find missing Southern Highlands man
- Southern Highlands florists turn to a traditional option for Mothers' Day due to imported flower challenges
- Take a share in $300,000 for community infrastructure
- 'Real life skills' a benefit of learning from home during COVID-19 restrictions
- Tulip Time Festival the latest casualty of COVID-19 pandemic
- COVID-19 school restrictions result in new learning options, interests
- Wingecarribee Shire Council plans to support residents, businesses to economic recovery
South West Sydney Local Health District statistics for today:
- 252 Confirmed cases
- 215 Recovered (85per cent)
- Still in home isolation - 25
- Still hospitalised - 5
- Four have died
- Healthcare Workers in NSW with infection about 440, about half caught in workplace.
- SWSLHD population - just under 1 million
Dr Roche said the secret the success so far was social distancing and hand washing.
The rules for Visiting other people at homerelaxed a little from May 1.
Up to two adults and their dependent children are now allowed to visit another household,
"And please take extra care when visiting vulnerable people," he said.
"Don't go from house to house visiting - it defeats the whole purpose of lockdown.
"If you are feeling unwell, you should not visit other people at home.
"Even if you have only mild symptoms - like tiredness or a sore throat - get tested at one of our Flu Assessment Clinics."
Dr Roche urged people to download the COVIDSafe app today.
"The Division of General Practice would encourage all Wingecarribee residents - and indeed all Australians - to download the new Australian GovernmentCOVIDSafe app," he said.
"While the app does not prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, it will make a huge contribution to the early and swift tracing of contacts of newly diagnosed people.
"It is a valuable tool in pushing down the number of infected cases towards zero - and helping Australia to move back to a normal way of life.
"Five million Australians have downloaded the app.
"We need to double or even triple that for the app to be really effective.
"Please download it today!"
Dr Roche said that all of our Registered Aged Care Facilities in the Highlands had carefully weighed up the risks and benefits to their residents and staff and had reviewed their previous policies where they had remained closed to all visitors - including families - with the exception of emergencies and palliative care patients.
"All these nursing homes have put measures in place to facilitate their residents talking with their families by phone, Skype, FaceTime etc to minimise the distress that isolation causes both residents and families," he said.
"GPs are doing as much as possible of their care by phone, fax, Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc! Aged Care facilities are working closely with GPs and the Hospital to provide the most appropriate and timely care to residents - and to keep them away from the hospital and the Emergency Department with grave risks to elderly people in a possible COVID exposed environment.
"Each Aged Care Facility has communicated their new visitor policies to residents, families and GPs - as the pandemic picture slowly changes in Australia.
"I'm sure we are all aware of the terrible scenes in nursing homes overseas (as well as here in Penrith and Macquarie Park) - and understand the huge pressures on Nursing Homes to keep their residents and staff safe.
"Most local GPs are strongly supportive of the measures that our local Aged Care Facilities are taking - and interestingly, feedback from residents and their families are mostly strongly supportive of the ongoing physical isolation."
Keep up normal care
Dr Roche said there was significant concern among doctors about the decrease in "normal care"- whether paediatrics, antenatal, conditions where patients truly need to be seen in the Emergency Department or in the case of GP care, people with chronic and complex illness (eg heart disease, lung disease, diabetes) - where anecdotally there has been a large reduction in people keeping their appointments and an increase in cancelled appointments.
"Normal Care needs to continue throughout the epidemic," he said.
"Some may be done by telehealth - but much will involve face-to-face appointments with doctors and midwives."
General Practices now have plenty of flu vaccines.
Dr Roche said this was highly recommended as there were still the usual influenza bugs circulating.
"People weakened by the flu are a sitting target for a severe dose of COVID-19," he said.
"This is a good year to have one. But do not wait weeks or months - there are no advantages and real disadvantages in holding off.
"If you don't normally have a flu vaccine, this is the year to do it!
"And if your GP Clinic is out of vaccine - it is not their fault - please do not abuse the staff - the Public Health Unit gives it to the General Practices as soon as they get the vaccines from the manufacturers, and they will soon be restocked."
The next shipment is due in about a week.
The Bowral Hospital Flu Assessment Clinic
Hours of Business:
- Weekdays - 10am to 5.30pm
- Weekends - 10:30am to 3pm
- Phone Number - 4861 0145
The Flu Assessment Clinic continues to run smoothly.
Dr Roche said doctors recommend all people who feel that they need to be screened should talk to their GP by telephone first.
"People do not require a referral from their GP to attend the BDH Flu Assessment Clinic, but they prefer GP Clinics do the first line of triage," he said.
"Screening criteria have changed - often on a day-by-day basis- and these changes that are inevitable as the epidemic progresses.
"As the epidemic progresses into the next phase - community transmission - GPs are being encouraged to test any members of the public with a fever or respiratory symptoms, and especially any Health Care or Aged Care workers with a fever or respiratory symptoms."
The direct phone number for the flu clinic is 4861 0145 and enquiries will be answered during hours of operation only.
If you have respiratory symptoms or a fever or both - please get tested.
Even if you have seen your GP, you need to ring the Clinic on 4861 0145 to organise your time to come to the clinic.
Results are usually available in about 24 hours.
In addition, there is a new Commonwealth-funded General Practice Respiratory Clinic opened in Mittagong recently.
The clinic is located in the lower level of Mittagong HealthCare Centre, 58 Bowral Road, Mittagong.
It is open 9am to 5pm seven days a week.
Dr Roche said the clinics were designed to assess patients with mild-to-moderate respiratory symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough, tiredness and shortness of breath.
"Regardless of whether COVID-19 testing is indicated, or a specimen is taken, the patient will receive clinical guidance about managing their respiratory symptoms through the clinic," he said.
"Patients must have an appointment before attending the clinic."
Patients can make an appointment online via HotDoc and there will be no charge to the patient.
To set up an appointment, patients can also phone the clinic directly for triage, call HealthDirect or be referred by their GP.
Referring GPs will receive a copy of the pathology results.
All staff and visitors to the hospital are being screened for infection risk with a questionnaire and a temperature test as they enter the hospital.
Limit is one visitor per patients and the new restricted visiting hours are 10am-11am, and 4:30pm to 5:30pm.
The only entrance to the hospital for staff and visitors is via the Milton Park Front Door.
Dr Roche said there had been a limited reintroduction of some elective surgerysince April 27 - with Category Two and some category Three patients - at both Bowral District Hospital and the Southern Highlands Private Hospital.
"If you are on a waiting list - the respective hospital will contact you if you are able to have your surgery,' he said.
"We are hoping to achieve 25-50 per cent of our usual surgical throughput.
"Why not more? There is still a relative shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) - eg gloves, face masks, gowns - and we cannot afford to run down our supply in case Covid gets worse.
"Likewise we need to keep enough hospital beds empty to allow us to cope with a surge in Covid activity should it occur."
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we need to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe.