Coronavirus: Hunter GPs call for residents to be vigilant after outbreaks in Victoria and NSW

Re-focus to stop COVID-19 spread, Hunter GPs urge

HUNTER GPs are urging people to heed public health advice as a new case of COVID-19 emerged in Newcastle.

A 27-year-old male - a known close contact of a previously reported case from Newcastle - is the latest Hunter resident to be diagnosed with COVID-19.

Hunter New England public health physician Dr David Durrheim said the case and his close contacts were in isolation, and there was no ongoing risk of community transmission.

"The Casula hotel experience has shown us just how quickly this virus can spread, especially with a pub that is a key stop-off location for travelers," Dr Durrheim said.

"There are towns all throughout our district that are key stop-offs during travel, particularly during the holiday season. So all of us now need to play our part to ensure we are not reintroducing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

"We need to keep our distance, we need to maintain our good hygiene.

These things are proving key to stopping the spread of the virus.

"Anyone who develops mild respiratory symptoms, or more severe respiratory symptoms or a fever, needs to make sure they stay at home and get tested.

"We need to be vigilant so that the virus doesn't get away from us again."

It comes as the Hunter GP Association called on residents to remain vigilant and "hold the line" in the battle against COVID-19.

"If we all pitch in together we might have an opportunity to keep our region open even if Sydney ends up going back into lockdowns," Dr Lee Fong, secretary of the Hunter GP Association, said.

"We were just getting used to hugging our friends again and meeting them in crowded cafes and restaurants - and some workplaces are already starting to phase out remote working.

"The reality is that it's really, really hard to keep up social distancing and it's super easy to slide back into doing things the way we used to do them.

"But just over the border in Victoria, there are now hundreds of new COVID-19 cases being found daily, and there is desperate, really hardworking attempts being made to find and follow up on thousands of close contacts of those new cases."

Dr Fong said due to school holidays, it was possible thousands of Victorians had already crossed the borders before they were policed.

"We are already seeing a worrying NSW outbreak of COVID-19 that potentially involves hundreds of people linked to that pub in Casula," he said. "Nobody wants to go back to the sort of lockdown that metropolitan Melbourne is now under.

"If we want to stop that from happening, we need to hold the line. We need to re-focus our efforts."

Dr Fong urged people to get tested, even for a slightly runny nose, a tickle in the throat, fever, fatigue, or a loss of sense of smell or taste.

"Maintaining high testing rates is the only way we can be confident we will quickly pick up COVID-19 if it is spread in our community," he said.

"Don't go to work if you are unwell. Don't send your child to school if they are unwell.

"Avoid physical greetings - the hugs, kissing and the handshakes - it's still not OK to do that. Don't forget to practice good hand hygiene, stay that 1.5 metres apart, don't touch your face."

This story Re-focus to stop COVID-19 spread, Hunter GPs urge first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.