The news remains good!
That is the message of the Southern Highlands Division of General Practice.
Wingecarribee Shire numbers of COVID-19 cases have remainedunchanged for the last 29 days.
The total number of cases in the shire stands firm at 25 cases and there is no recorded community transmission.
Division spokesman Dr Vince Roche said that there were two new cases in NSW, of which one came from Melbourne and one was in a Sydney Boarding School.
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There are total eight new cases in Australia - mostly in Victoria (5) with one in Queensland.
Some fresh NSW information from May 21:
- 3082 Confirmed cases;
- 2648 Recovered (86 per cent;
- Still in home isolation - 91;
- In ICU - 3;
- On Ventilators - 2;
- Died - 49
- Total tested in last 24 hours - 9734
- Total new positives - 2
Dr Roche said that it would still be another couple of weeks before it was known if the move from social distancing over the last couple of weeks had come at a cost of a second wave.
"This is a long way from over - if we get a second wave, it may be unstoppable," he said.
"So what should we do in the meantime?
"We need to move from social distancing to the new concept of physical distancing.
"Yes, we are much more out and about, back at schools, restaurants, coffee shops, shopping etc - but we need to make sure that we keep physically distancing.
"Keep 1.5-2.0 metres from everyone else (except our families /housemates) and keep thinking ... 'what if they had Covid and didn't know it'.
"When you have the option - stay at home as much as possible. Keep hand washing - along with testing everyone with any respiratory symptoms."
All of our Registered Aged Care Facilities in the Highlands have carefully weighed up the risks and benefits to their residents and staff and have reviewed their previous policies where they have remained closed to all visitors.
Dr Roche said this also applied to 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.
"Our 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 protective measures taken by our Nursing Homes."
Keep up the Normal Care
Dr Roche said there was significant concern among our 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," he said.
"Normal care needs to continue throughout the epidemic.
"Some may be done by telehealth - but much will involve face-to-face appointments with doctors and midwives.
"Likewise, dentists are back at work and it is important to resume the maintenance work again."
Some General Practices have adequate flu vaccines for 65+ age group and some may be waiting for their next delivery.
Dr Roche said that stocks were low due to high uptake.
"This is also true of stocks of vaccines for the 5-64 year age group," he said.
"There are plenty of vaccine for the childhood influenza vaccine (six months to less than five years).
"Flu vaccination is highly recommended as we still have the usual influenza bugs circulating - and people weakened by the flu are a sitting target for a severe dose of COVID-19.
"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 be restocked as soon as supplies are available."
The Bowral Hospital Flu Assessment Clinic
Hours of Business:
- Weekdays - 10am to 5.30p
- Weekends - 10:30am to 3pm
- Phone Number - 4861 014
Dr Roche said the Flu Assessment Clinic continues to run smoothly.
"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.
"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.
The Commonwealth-funded General Practice Respiratory 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.
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 surgery since 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 currently achieving about 50 per cent of our usual surgical throughput at both hospitals.
"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."
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