Corona virus: The need to stay calm and practical

Gateway Health is suggesting we all take a “calm and practical” approach to the current Covid-19 corona virus outbreak.

While there have been relatively few cases to date in north-eastern Victoria and southern NSW, the threat of rapid growth in infections remains real, so it is important we remain fully prepared.

At present, most people who have contracted Covid-19 are people who have recently come from China or one of the handful of other countries where there have been outbreaks, or who have come into direct contact with a person who is in that category.

If you are not in either of these categories – and you have no flu-like symptoms – the advice of Gateway Health (in line with other health organisations around Australia) would be simply to stay calm and follow normal cleanliness and hygiene practices.

Here’s 10 simple things you can do to minimise your risk of infection:

  • Wash hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, being with ill people and especially before you eat
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes
  • Get enough sleep and avoid getting run-down
  • Use tissues for coughs and sneezes and dispose of them immediately and appropriately
  • Eat properly and get regular exercise
  • Avoid crowds and keep your distance from people you know are ill
  • If you are sick, avoid contact with the frail, very young and elderly
  • If you are sick, stay home
  • Keep your household and work surfaces clean – use disinfectant wipes if surfaces are used by lots of people

Anyone who has recently returned from overseas travel and has flu-like symptoms is being asked to call 1800 020 080 as their first contact point.

Staff on the 1800 number are able to offer specialised help and support.

If someone in either of the two at-risk categories wishes to come in to one of Gateway Health’s offices, they are being asked to phone ahead and make arrangements to be met outside of the building.

This is a precaution to reduce the risk of anyone with symptoms mixing closely with others.

Gateway Health has provided additional hand sanitisers and wipes on its premises, and given advice to staff on how to minimise any further risks of infection.

Gateway Health points people to the website of the Department of Health and Human Services as one of the most reliable and frequently updated sources of reliable information and advice:

And here is a useful video from the Victorian Government’s Chief Health Officer:

We also have information here on our website, on our Facebook page and in other locations.

It’s important not to get carried away with gossip and rumours, particularly on social media. While this is a health issue we all need to take seriously, there’s no reason for panic and over-the-top responses.

At present, there’s not a single case in this part of Australia. But if and when any eventuate, expert medical help will be at hand.

People in frail health or with other chronic conditions have more reason to take extra care, but for most members of the public, having Covid-19 produces only mild symptoms and does not require specific medical treatment.

It’s important not to be complacent – and equally important we all keep the risks in proportion and stay calm and practical.