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Byron Shire
May 19, 2022

Health boss says region is prepared for virus clusters

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Storylines – Stop the rot and take action

Having spent a long time reflecting on the last 13 weeks since the floods devastated our region, many important issues have come to my attention – loss of homes, possessions, safety, schools suspended from flooding, chaos, death, loss of animals, extreme anxiety and desperation, and so much more.

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As a Byron Shire resident, if you are showing symptoms for the virus, you can get tested for free at the Byron Hospital COVID-19 clinic.

Mandy Nolan

Wayne Jones, chief executive Northern NSW Local Health District, says he is extremely positive about the way our region has adhered to the COVID-19 regulations and how well health services have adapted to be ‘COVID ready’.

Part of this readiness is being ready for the upcoming school holidays.

‘We planned for bigger numbers coming here, and have positioned our services to manage COVID in phase one by the doubling of intensive care, then quadrupling, should the need arise.

‘There are hospital-based and community services if we get a huge wave of cases – if a cluster evolves we can manage it.’

Local people testing COVID positive have decreased to nil.

As of 22 May, ‘There hasn’t been a confirmed case for 23 days.

‘That reflects [that] the community are doing social distancing hygiene, and that our time to test following symptoms, is about a day.

Increase expected

‘We are anticipating an increase in numbers here, and plans are in place to respond to schools and nursing homes should someone test positive for COVID-19’, said Mr Jones.

This would involve closing the facility, doing a thorough cleaning, and following that up with contact tracing to rule out transmission.

While police have reported a drop in crime, health authorities have also seen a drop in seasonal admissions for the flu and other contagious illnesses.

‘The irony was, at the height of the isolation restrictions, we saw a significant reduction in presentations in emergency and in elective surgery.

‘It allowed us to take our staff and train them in intensive care management – it means we have a workforce to supplement the need, should it arise,’ said Mr Jones.

Although with elective surgeries resuming, hospitals are becoming busier, he said.

‘We are back up to 40 per cent of what we call business as usual, and expect that to be up to 75 per cent by the end of June,’ said Mr Jones.


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