Everyone should be concerned about the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Victoria and Casula.
This is the message of Southern Highlands Divitions of General Practice spokesman Dr Vince Roche.
He said the significant community acquired infection spike in Melbourne causing Victoria to be locked down again and community acquired infections spreading from the Crossroads Hotel in Casula was cause for concern.
"This is less than 100km away and part of our Local Health District," he said.
"The good news is that currently we have no new cases identified in the Wingecarribee as of Sunday July 12.
"Are there likely to be unknown and undiagnosed cases here in the Highlands? Very likely.
"Should we be concerned? Yes."
Dr Roche said it was a "big wake up call to all of us."
"Looking around on the streets and the coffee shops, we have turned our back on social distancing over the last month.
"We have become complacent and the biggest story in the media is how soon we can pack thousands into stadiums.
"We are concerned at the jobs and dollars - and let down our guard by forgetting to do the major strategy that has greatly reduced our first wave in Australia - social distancing.
"Experts believe that we can allow people out of their houses back to shops, schools and sport - but that will be lethal if we don't physically distance ourselves.
"Just remember, a metre and a half from everyone else and plenty of hand hygiene.
"And any symptoms - fever, dry cough, unexplained tiredness, aches and pains, diarrhoea, sore throat, conjunctivitis, gut symptoms, a loss of taste or smell - should result in a Covid-19 test at one of our two testing site at Bowral and Mittagong."
Dr Roche said there was increasing evidence that wearing masks could reduce the transition of the virus indoors, when not at home, and especially where physical distance was difficult.
"If you are in a shop, bar or restaurant where physical distancing is not happening, speak up, as the standard you walk past is the standard you accept - or leave the space," he said.
"The economic and social recovery is not worth dying for.
"Who can stop the spread? Each of us. We have learnt the huge financial and personal effect of managing a major outbreak.
"If the pandemic resumes in NSW, we will likely have to close down various areas and regions, or even the whole state, for periods of time - at even more cost.
"Surely we can see the wisdom in resuming physical distancing and Covid consciousness.
"More than just our health is at stake."
Dr Roche's summarised tips include:
- physical distancing
- hand and cough hygiene
- everyone with a symptom must get tested (this includes children)
- do not go to work or school or childcare if you have a symptom - any symptom - and stay home until you are symptom free and have tested negative
- be modest in your family reunions and socialising - even then, maintain physical distancing.
- Avoid hugging and shaking hands.
- Download the Covid-19 App.
- If you have been to the Crossroads Hotel at Casula or been in Victoria in the last two to three weeks - please get tested today.
The Bowral Hospital Flu Assessment Clinic
The Bowral Hopsital Flu Assessment Clininc continues to operate seven days a week out of the hospital's outpatient department.
This is planned to continue for several more months.
Hours of Business:
- Weekdays - 10am to 5.30pm
- Weekends - 10:30am to 3pm
- Phone number - 4861 014.
People do not require a referral from their GP to attend the BDH Flu Assessment Clinic.
The direct phone number for the flu clinic is 4861 0145 and enquiries will be answered during hours of operation only.
If you have any respiratory symptoms - even if you think it is just a cold - please get tested.
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," 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.
Bowral and District Hospital Update:
- Outpatient Services: The Outpatient Department is currently being used for the Flu Assessment Clinic, so Outpatients Activity has been suspended for the last three months. We hope to move the Flu Clinic soon to a different site, then the normal outpatient services will recommence. We will still need to manage social distancing requirements which will be a challenge given our waiting areas. The use of telehealth will continue to be used where appropriate.
- Elective Surgery: with the wind down of elective surgery over the last 3 months there has been a significant deterioration of overdue elective surgery cases. This is mainly for Category C patients ( 365 days) in ophthalmology and orthopaedics. Over the next month the hospital will be moving back to normal levels of surgery. However this will not be adequate to catch up on the existing overdue patients. The hospital has already engaged the Southern Highlands Private Hospital (SHPH) to undertake around 60 cataract cases to assist with catching up. Over the next few months the SHPH will be further engaged to take on orthopaedics as well. There are also significant overdue patients awaiting medical scope procedures and options are currently being considered to provide additional lists to reduce these overdue cases.
- New Hospital. It is great news that work on the new hospital has been largely unaffected by COVID. Work is on track for the hospital to be completed late this year and we hope to move in before Christmas. This will be confirmed over the next few months. Planning is about to commence on the $55 million stage 2 of the redevelopment. This will look at new accommodation for services provided from the Watson building eg Allied Health, Cardiac Assessment Unit etc as well as Pathology, the Mortuary and a new 6 chair Dialysis Service.
Southern Highlands Private Hospital Update:
- Ramsay Healthcare has announced that they have resumed elective surgery at 100 per cent capacity since the beginning of July. SHPH (along with most private hospitals) has had greatly reduced surgical activity due to concerns about hospital and ICU capacity, Personal Protective Equipment capacity and workforce concerns since the onset of the Pandemic in NSW in March.
- SHPH have been contracted to assist with waiting list reduction at Bowral and District Public Hospital especially in Opthalmology and Orthopaedics over the next few months.
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