Cutting through the crap: Here is what you need to know
AS FEARS over the spread of coronavirus cause a whole manner of strange responses, a Clarence Valley medical clinic is urging people to stay calm and keep it simple.
From avoiding Corona beers to hoarding toilet paper, the community response in some parts of the world has been alarming, but Queen St Clinic practice manager Yvonne Barnes wanted to set the record straight on how the community could help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ms Barnes said the most important thing to keep in mind was to practice good hand hygiene.
"The biggest thing is washing your hands. Hand sanitiser may not be around but simple soap and water is just as effective. Normal handwashing is enough."
Ms Barnes also emphasised the importance of knowing cough etiquette.
"A lot of people aren't aware you are meant to cough into your elbow, the cough etiquette is that you sneeze or cough into a tissue or cough into your elbow but not into your hand."
People should also be mindful of touching their face, as Ms Barnes explained the more it could be avoided, the better.
Noting the signs Queen St Clinic had erected outside their building, Ms Barnes assured people it was not to scare, but to draw attention to the way people could help prevent any potential spread of the virus.
If people took these simple steps it could make a "huge" difference to the way the disease spread around the community.
• Wash your hands with soap and water or practice good hand hygiene;
• Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow;
• Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms;
• Remain calm;
• Call 1800 022 222 if you develop symptoms.
The clinic was encouraging people who had symptoms of coronavirus - which included fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath - to call the Health Direct number on 1800 022 222 rather than enter the clinic.
Dr Bill Coorey said if there was a silver lining to the situation it was that in the increased community awareness of hygiene, containment methods would be useful in reducing infection in the coming flu season.
"In the same way we try to vaccinate lots of people to protect the most vulnerable in our society - it is the same idea, everyone needs to take some action to protect the most vulnerable from this virus," he said.
Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones said testing for coronavirus had begun since mid February and they were working with general practices to support them in responding to the situation. He emphasised people should isolate themselves from others if they had symptoms and to call ahead before attending any health facility.