‘This is serious’: Doctor weighs in on coronavirus

A LOCAL doctor has warned residents to take the Covid-19 crisis “very seriously” and says the situation will only worsen if drastic action isn’t taken.

Dr Ben Brimblecombe, from St George Medical Centre, said he wanted to emphasise just how serious the illness was and urge not only locals but all Australians to take every possible precaution.

“We are in a position to actually do something about it,” he said.

“We need to take this illness very seriously and do everything we can to prevent this sort of scenario.

“There is so much information out there about this virus, and it can be overwhelming and difficult to sift through to know what the truth of the situation is.

“If you take away nothing though, take away this: we can save a lot of lives if we take simple measures including social distancing, good hand hygiene and restricting unnecessary movement.

“The time to act is now.”

Dr Brimblecombe said a key aim should be trying to avoid overburdening the health system, as had been seen in other countries like Italy.

“The government has rightly banned gatherings of 500 people or more, but I think (and multitudes of my colleagues around Australia are in agreement) that we should be imposing on ourselves even stricter restrictions,” he said.

Balonne Shire Council is on high alert after the coronavirus pandemic escalated over the weekend.

Having shut down the Balonne Shire Local Disaster Management Group only last week following weeks of flooding in the shire, the group has re-formed in light of Covid-19.

Mayor and LDMG chairman Richard Marsh said the group had met on Monday morning to discuss plans and actions the shire would take to minimise the risk of novel coronavirus making an impact in local towns.

The council will be releasing health alerts to the community, including advice on social gatherings and maintaining good hygiene.

“We’re working towards how we might minimise the number of people who might be impacted,” Cr Marsh said.

“It comes back to social distancing and minimising contact through shaking hands etc.

“The biggest worry we as a group have is that we do have some events coming up that are significant in size compared to the population of our towns.”

In the coming months, the shire is due to host Anzac Day events, the 399 rally and the St George and Dirranbandi shows. The fate of these events is at this point unclear.

“While the government might talk about 500 people, that’s reasonable in our cities like Brisbane, even Toowoomba, but in St George that’s 20 per cent of our population,” he said.

“But for these events we would have people coming in from other areas, so they could potentially bring the infection with them.

“These are all things that have been discussed and will be communicated to the public.”

Cr Marsh said one thing everyone could do was be mindful of their hygiene: wash hands regularly, cover coughs, and socially isolate if you feel unwell.

“We as a council will enforce that our staff do not undertake any unnecessary travel,” he said.

“We’re not shutting the borders, we just want to minimise the impact our travel by our people might have on the shire. We want to lead by example. Our disaster management group is ready and are at alert. We are prepared.”

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