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South West still COVID-19 free

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The Balonne Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) has been advised by the South West Hospital and Health Service (SWHHS) that the South West region is still COVID-19 free.

LDMG Chair and Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole said the SWHHS was continuing to test people daily with 108 tested in total to date with four results pending.

“This is great news for our region and we thank the community for abiding by the COVID-19 restrictions which is so far keeping us free of coronavirus,” she said.

The SWHHS is currently testing patients if they have a fever (or a history of fever) or acute respiratory symptoms, and, in the past 14 days were a close contact or a household contact of a confirmed case, and if they had been overseas including on a cruise.

Testing may also be done for people who have a fever (or history of fever) or acute respiratory symptoms, AND:

  • work in vulnerable settings such as healthcare, aged or residential care, military, a school or child care, correction facilities, detention centres and boarding schools.
  • live in Brisbane, Gold Coast or Cairns
  • live in or travelled from a COVID-19 hotspot
  • live in or travelled from another state
  • live in a First Nations community.

Cr O’Toole said it was extremely important for community members to practise good personal hygiene, stay 1.5m away from others when out, and stay home unless having to get food or medicines to keep our community safe.

Agricultural employment requirements were also discussed by the group as growers in the region will soon be needing to increase staff for planting, pruning and harvesting.

“We have been advised by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries that all agricultural workers coming to Queensland will need to apply for an entry pass which can be downloaded from www.daf.qld.gov.au,” Cr O’Toole said.

“Workers in heavy vehicles carrying freight or goods (including food) do not have to apply for an entry pass.

“Producers are also required by the Queensland Chief Medical Officer to complete and submit a health plan that sets out basic hygiene and cleaning requirements to address the spread of COVID-19. This can be obtained from the Queensland Health website.

“The LDMG were also informed that many western producers were beginning to reach their download data limits with their internet providers and in some instances may be restricting business operations and information transfer.

“With the need to homeschool and keep their businesses going they are chewing through their data quotas.

“The advice we have received is that many internet providers are offering non-contract upgrades through the Skymaster satellite. We urge agribusinesses to talk with their service provider to upgrade with a non-contract service, especially as the school term starts next week.”

The Balonne LDMG remains at Stand-Up Status and is meeting weekly. The Balonne Recovery Group has moved to Lean Forward to ensure plans are in place to assist community recovery while the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Published: 15th April 2020

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