Victorians Attend Coronavirus Screening Clinics For COVID-19 Testing
Victorians Attend Coronavirus Screening Clinics For COVID-19 Testing

‘We won’t cope’: Council bans events of 10+ people


LIMITED health services to deal with an outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 has forced the Balonne Shire Council to ban community gatherings of more than 10 people - some of the strictest measures in Australia.

Balonne Shire Council mayor Richard Marsh said the unprecedented move had been made out of necessity, citing the shire's health facilities would not be able to cope with a coronavirus outbreak.

The Balonne Local Disaster Management Group on Monday moved to the Alert status as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LDMG chairman, Cr Marsh said while Queensland Health, through South West Hospital and Health Service, was the lead agency dealing with the pandemic, his team had a responsibility to ensure the safety of communities in the shire.

In a letter to community event organisers, Cr Marsh urged for upcoming events to be postponed or cancelled.

"The Federal and Queensland governments are urging the postponement or cancellation of events of 500 people or more," he said.

"Having an event in larger centres where there are greater resources for treating infected people may be reasonable, however the LDMG is concerned the events of up to 500 people in smaller communities pose the risk of a higher level of infection than our local medical services could cope with.

"As a small shire, we cannot cope with an reasonable sized outbreak resulting from an event, and urge you to think of the broader community when making your decision in relation to running or cancelling your proposed event.

"Accordingly, the LDMG has adopted ten as the maximum number of people gathered in one location for community activities in the Balonne Shire."

The current COVID-19 data indicates 20 per cent of those affected will require some form of ventilation.

The St George Hospital has only two ventilators which would not only be required for coronavirus-affected patients, but for patients admitted with heart attacks, strokes, and other serious medical issues.

"We simply do not have the infrastructure to come with any increase in demand on those resources," he said.

"Given the size of our state and the potential for an outbreak, there will not be enough resources to accommodate those in need."

Cr Marsh said he wanted to thank event organisers for understanding the gravity of the pandemic, and the limited resources available in the shire to cope with the outbreak.

"If we all work together, we will get through this global crisis," he said.

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