Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Health district prepares for inevitable outbreak

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Murrumbidg­ee Local Health District is preparing for potential COVID-19 outbreaks, as the spread of the Delta strain continues to plague NSW.

Despite the media being told Friday there was “absolutely no plan to lock down regional New South Wales”, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro confirmed a snap seven day lockdown on Saturday afternoon to start just hours later, at 5pm.

A day earlier, at a press conference in Wagga, MLHD chief executive Jill Ludford encouraged district residents to get vaccinated and follow public health orders, including checking in at every location, wearing a mask, using hand sanitiser, and following social distancing orders.

She urged anyone with symptoms to get tested immediatel­y to protect their community.

While there are no active COVID-19 cases in the MLHD region, Ms Ludford said preparatio­n was key as Sydney cases grow and spread further throughout the state.

COVID-19 has now reached Western NSW, which she suggested was a sure sign of an imminent outbreak.

And while Ms Ludford said an outbreak is ‘‘inevitable’’ in the district, she said residents should not panic.

She said the NSW Government will be continuous­ly monitoring ‘‘highly sensitive’’ sewerage testing in six local government areas across MLHD, including Edward River Council.

And a public health unit in the MLHD area is poised to ‘‘identify close contacts and venues of concern’’ in the event of an incursion from a COVID-positive person.

Ms Ludford said the district is ‘‘ready to ramp up testing anywhere an outbreak occurs’’ in its 126,000km2 coverage area.

She added that hospitals are preparing for three sections of healthcare needs for positive COVID-19 cases in the communitie­s:

● Those who are severely ill and require treatment at a hospital;

● Those who need a daily health check who will be placed in supported accommodat­ion; and

● Those who need daily in-home care via a nurse or other medical support.

Intensive care and ventilatio­n support will be available at hospitals in Wagga Wagga and Griffith.

Ms Ludford said MLHD had tripled its intensive care capabiliti­es in preparatio­n. ‘‘We also have COVID wards at the ready. ‘‘It is important for communitie­s where you have multi-purpose services or Murrumbidg­ee residentia­l aged care, we will not be using those hospitals for COVID positive patients. We have to preserve, at all costs, the health and well being of our frail and elderly.’’

To avoid the burden on the health system, she said everybody who can should get vaccinated.

Vaccinatio­n rates in the Murrumbidg­ee health district for first shots are between 43 and 45 per cent, while the fully vaccinated MLHD population is 17 to 18 per cent of its 240,000 person population.

Edward River Council Mayor Norm Brennan said COVID-positive incursions into the regional areas of Armidale, Byron and Orange were a warning sign for Edward River and asked residents across the state to avoid travelling further than they need to, and ‘‘do the right thing’’.

‘‘And we’re also asking the New South Wales Government to ensure people don’t (travel) by putting up tougher penalties and more checks if they try,’’ Cr Brennan said.

Preventing movement to regional NSW from Sydney will be a key focus of the operation.

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 ??  ?? ■ Murrumbidg­ee Local Health District chief executive Jill Ludford and Riverina Police District Superinten­dent Bob Noble at the Wagga press conference.
■ Murrumbidg­ee Local Health District chief executive Jill Ludford and Riverina Police District Superinten­dent Bob Noble at the Wagga press conference.

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