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Regional COVID-19 cases rising on South Coast and in Murrumbidgee Health District

Edwina Mason 22 March 2020

COVID-19 cases have been confirmed across the South East and Murrumbidgee. Photo: Southern NSW LDH, Facebook.

Regional coronavirus cases are beginning to proliferate across the Capital region and southern NSW as cases are confirmed in the Eurobodalla, Goulburn, Queanbeyan Palerang and Murrumbidgee districts.

Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) has confirmed six cases of COVID-19 have been formally identified. These include:

  • A Canberra man in his 60s who was recently overseas and on his return showed signs of a sore throat, cough and flu-like symptoms. The man is in self-isolation in Goulburn.
  • A Queanbeyan woman in her 60s who was recently interstate, and is now in self-isolation.
  • A Bungendore resident who tested positive after returning from a recent cruise, and has undertaken self-isolation.
  • A Longbeach local who returned to Batemans Bay following a recent cruise and has undertaken self-isolation.
  • A Tura Beach resident, who is now in self-isolation after testing positive on return from travelling overseas.
  • A woman from Merimbula who contracted the virus after attending a wedding interstate who is now in self-isolation.

Southern NSW Local Health District Public Health Unit says they are in contact with each confirmed case and their close contacts, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days from when they were last with the confirmed case. They have also been advised to seek medical attention should they experience symptoms.

Identifying close contacts ensures that those people who may be at risk take the necessary steps to avoid any further transmission.

To date, there is one suspected case of COVID-19 amongst people who have been tested in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD).

Albury Wodonga Health has confirmed that a NSW resident has returned a positive result to COVID-19 after testing at the Albury Wodonga health testing clinic.

Albury Wodonga Health is the first cross-border public health service to exist in Australia, and operates under an agreement between NSW and Victorian governments.

The person remains in self isolation after returning from overseas and further testing is underway to confirm status.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District. The announcement today of a suspected case of COVID-19 relates to a NSW resident who was tested at the Albury Wodonga Health testing clinic.

The MLHD (see map) provides public health services to people across the Riverina, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the South Western Slopes of NSW.

The news comes hours after state premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW will proceed to a more comprehensive shutdown of non-essential services, over the next 48 hours.

Supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics, and home delivery will be among the many services that will remain open.

The premier said schools will be open tomorrow, but will have more to say on this issue Monday morning following tonight’s National Cabinet meeting.

NSW Health is asking members of the public to minimise travel, increase personal awareness around hand hygiene and practice social distancing.

If you are in the Southern NSW Local Health District, COVID-19 Assessment Centres have been established throughout the District, so those with symptoms may be tested and treated quickly.

The Goulburn, Bega and Queanbeyan centres are all located at the local hospitals: follow signs to the dedicated testing areas. In Moruya, the service is in the Pathways building, and in Cooma, at the Sharp St surgery. Do not attend these centres without calling first to ensure you meet the criteria and receive directions.

Anyone heading to an assessment centre MUST call the SNSWLHD Central Intake Service – 1800 999 880 (option 1) before attending.

These clinics are for people who have respiratory symptoms or fever and who are at risk of COVID-19, for example because they were in contact with a COVID-19 case, or have returned from overseas in the 14 days before onset of symptoms.

You will only be tested if you fit the COVID-19 testing criteria.

If you are in the Murrumbidgee and believe you have may have contracted the COVID-19 virus (ie: who are returned travellers, or who have come in contact with a confirmed case and are showing symptoms such as: fever, sore throat, dry cough and shortness of breath) you are advised in the first instance to:

  • Call the free-call coronavirus hotline 1800 022 222 and receive advice on the best course of action depending on your symptoms and risks. Medical staff will direct people to the nearest hospital or respiratory clinic, or advise them to stay home and self-monitor, or contact their GP, or
  • Contact your GP to arrange an appointment (let GP practice know in advance if you
    have symptoms) or
  • Call the Murrumbidgee COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 831 099 for assessment (7.00 am – 11.00 pm). The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, sore throat and dry cough.

Symptoms will generally appear three to four days after exposure to the virus but can be up to 14 days later.

TIPS to reduce potential for transmission of the virus:

  • Avoiding crowds and mass gatherings
  • Avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces
  • Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people
  • Avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people
  • Avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals.

Members of the public who need information should visit the NSW Health website at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases

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