Grafton Base Hospital. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
Grafton Base Hospital. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner

COVID-19 clinic considered for Clarence

THE Northern NSW Local Health District has said it is considering opening a coronavirus assessment clinic at Grafton Base Hospital later this week.

The news comes as Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned NSW residents ahead of a national cabinet meeting to prepare for the state's non-essential services to be locked down within 48 hours.

The health service confirmed there hadn't been any new cases detected within the health district over the weekend, with five cases recorded to date.

"This is pleasing but we anticipate more cases," executive officer Wayne Jones said.

"There are thousands of Australians returning from overseas, places that are far more exposed to the virus."

The origin of the fifth case on the North Coast remains under investigation.

"For now we are contact-tracing," Mr Jones said.

"The individual's movements have been quite limited outside of their residential property."

All confirmed cases are in self-isolation and currently stable.

Mr Jones said the health district was working closely with staff, North Coast Primary Health Network, and local GPs to ensure appropriate measures were in place for an effective health response to the coronavirus.

"Testing for Covid-19 is continuing in facilities within NNSWLHD, including Covid-19 flu clinics which have been established at ­Lismore Base Hospital and The Tweed Hospital," he said.

"We are considering opening an assessment clinic at Grafton Base Hospital later this week.

"However, we stress these clinics are for those most at risk with respiratory symptoms or fever, those returning from overseas or in contact with a Covid-19 case, or ­people like our health workers.

"It is vital that these respiratory clinics are not overwhelmed with people who are not in the high-risk groups, which could result in delays identifying those most vulnerable.

"People without symptoms do not need to be tested."

 << Follow this link to stay up to date with the latest coronavirus information specific to the Clarence Valley >>

Mr Jones said the Federal Government had not yet announced locations of planned respiratory clinics and any announcement would be made by North Coast Primary Health Network.

"We have been negotiating with the Primary Health ­Network, and provided recommendations on where they should be establishing respiratory clinics," Mr Jones said.

"At this stage we (also) recommend clinics open in Ballina, Murwillumbah and Yamba."

The district has advertised for nursing assistance ­following the government's relaxation of visa conditions for international student nurses who are studying in Australia.

"Already we've had nearly 50 applications," Mr Jones said.

"We haven't settled on the number we'll take on; it depends on the calibre of the applicants.

"We are absolutely thrilled  with the number of applicants, they should be able to assist in aged care, too."

He said a small number of health workers were off work self-isolating at present, in most cases due to recent overseas travel.

A spokesman for NSW Health thanked the community for its co-operation and provision of comprehensive information to NSW Health to allow effective contact tracing.

Identification and isolation of contacts is a critical measure that limits the spread of the coronavirus.

Compliance with self-isolation by all contacts and returned travellers is essential.


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