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We are ready

Thursday, 19th March, 2020

Far West Local Health District CEO Umit Agis managing his hygiene well with some hand sanitiser at the Community Health Centre yesterday. He’s encouraging the community to continue doing likewise amidst the ongoing COVID-19 situation.PICTURE: Callum Marshall Far West Local Health District CEO Umit Agis managing his hygiene well with some hand sanitiser at the Community Health Centre yesterday. He’s encouraging the community to continue doing likewise amidst the ongoing COVID-19 situation.PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

The Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) say they’ve got in place the right plans to deal with COVID-19, while also confirming no positive tests of the virus across the district as of yesterday afternoon.

Speaking to local media yesterday, the FWLHD CEO Umit Agis said they were expecting the virus to reach the Far West at some point and were prepared to scale up their efforts should the need be required.

“We haven’t had any cases to date,” said Mr Agis.

“We’ve had a number of tests, all of which have come back negative which means we’ve found nothing.

“In terms of scaling, we’ve certainly modelled a number of scenarios. And we’ve got in place various levels of surge planning well on the way.

“So what we have is minor-surge, medium-surge, major-surge and then we get up to state-level-surge management.”

At this point, he said, the area was on the low end of that spectrum.

“Having said that, we have set up a COVID-19 clinic,” said Mr Agis. 

“We have escalated somewhat. Not because we have any cases but we really want to be the front foot.

“One of the great things about being so far away from everywhere else is that we’ll learn from others and early prevention really is the key to keep the prevalence low.”

The Thomas Street clinic, which is based in the SARU (Sub-Acute Rehab Unit) unit at Broken Hill Base Hospital, was at this point operational from 10am to 8pm, said Mr Agis.

“We can certainly escalate that up, or scale it up, if we need to,” he added.

At this point, he said, there had been 48 walk-ins into that clinic with very few needing to be actually tested.

“A number of them really didn’t require testing at the site,” said Mr Agis. “They were deferred to their GPs. It was more reassurance.

“We did conduct six tests at that site. We’re waiting results on three but the other three have come back negative.

“Prior to that we did have roughly about 10 that we had tested and they’ve all come back negative as well. That was before the clinic was set up.”

At the moment the district has about 300 swabs available, although, that was subject to increase over time, added Mr Agis.

“We think that’s (300) quite adequate,” he said. “And we’re working on more supplies in the next few weeks.

“We’re expecting about six boxes which will have another 300 swab capacity.”

For the time being though, Mr Agis reiterated the importance in the community managing their hygiene well and following all the key health advice to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

That included washing your hands properly, managing your self hygiene well, staying away from crowded places, social distancing (one-and-a-half metres between individuals) and not to shake hands.

He added that there was a public health COVID-19 helpline people could call if they were worried, had questions which needed answering and which could do a screening test as well. The number is 1300 066 055.

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