With holidaymakers arriving to the Northern Rivers for the school holidays, local health authorities are strongly discouraging travel to and from areas of Melbourne with COVID-19 outbreaks until community transmission has been contained.
Chief executive of the Northern NSW Local Health District (LHD), Wayne Jones, told The Echo, ‘Owing to the concerted effort of all residents, NSW has successfully suppressed COVID- 19 to very low levels’.
‘However, Victoria is seeing increased COVID-19 activity within some areas of Melbourne. These areas are being closely monitored, and interventions to prevent further transmissions from these areas are being implemented by the Victorian government.
Mr Jones said, ‘In line with the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), NSW Health strongly discourages travel to and from areas of Melbourne with COVID-19 outbreaks until community transmission has been contained’.
‘Owing to the concerted effort of all residents, NSW has successfully suppressed COVID- 19 to very low levels.
‘However, Victoria is seeing increased COVID-19 activity within some areas of Melbourne. These areas are being closely monitored, and interventions to prevent further transmissions from these areas are being implemented by the Victorian government. More information is available at: www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/response- outbreaks-covid-19.
‘Non-essential travel between Melbourne and NSW is strongly discouraged. In addition, restrictions on workers and visitors who have been in Melbourne in the previous 14 days to high risk settings have been implemented. Further restrictions may be implemented as the situation evolves.
‘NSW Health will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide regular updates to keep the public informed.
‘The NSW community has done an excellent job in heeding the public health advice in relation to measures to contain community spread of COVID-19.
‘Again, as we go into the school holiday period, everyone is reminded to maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres, regular hand washing, and covering any coughs or sneezes.
‘We urge anyone in the community feeling unwell – even with the mildest of symptoms such as a runny nose or scratchy throat – to isolate themselves from others and get tested for COVID-19 via their GP or by visiting one of the COVID-19 testing clinics.
A full list of COVID-19 testing clinics is available at www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/clinics.aspx
‘Our hospitals and health facilities are prepared for any increase in COVID-19 cases in this region. We have had pandemic response plans in place since March, and we continue to review these plans to ensure we can respond well’.
Local NSW MP Tamara Smith (Greens), meanwhile, told The Echo, ‘The health of our community is paramount and I’m sure we are all very sad and frightened to hear that a second wave of the virus is happening in Victoria. We all need to be super vigilant, and my message to anyone travelling to our region from a COVID-19 hotspot is please don’t come until that reality shifts’.
‘It’s also super important in a COVID-19 world that we do not demonise or “other” people because of where we think they come from. We have seen horrid racism towards people who appear to be Chinese and also towards foreigners and “out of towners” trapped in our region once flights ceased.
‘We know that there are hotspot areas near the city of Melbourne, but not everyone from Melbourne (a huge city) lives in a hotspot! Nobody from a COVID-19 hotspot should be leaving their home to even go to a shop, unless they have been tested as negative’.
‘The bottom line is that no matter where you are from, or where you are, you need to be practising the Public Health Order guidelines (maintaining a 1.5 metre distance from other people, using hand sanitiser, and of course, quarantining yourself if you have any symptoms, and getting tested and staying at home until you get your test results).’’.
‘COVID-19 does not care where you are from’.
Meanwhile, local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin told The Echo, ‘I’m very aware of the community’s concerns on this issue and have raised them directly with senior members of the government’.
‘For example I personally see merit in the idea that everyone who wants to fly should have their temperature checked at the airport and be barred from boarding if they have a fever.
‘The spike in cases in Victoria reinforces just how important it is for all of us to follow the current rules and protocols including socially distancing, sanitising hands and coughing or sneezing into our elbows’.