More health workers sent to Broome and Halls Creek

Elise Van Aken and Jakeb WaddellThe Kimberley Echo
Coronavirus symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, sore throat and a temperature over 38 degrees.
Camera IconCoronavirus symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, sore throat and a temperature over 38 degrees. Credit: Isabel Pavia/Getty Images

Additional health workers have been deployed to the Kimberley to ensure services can continue as normal in the region amid a number of local COVID-19 outbreaks.

The WA Country Health Service announced today it has taken immediate action to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the Kimberley and ensure service continuity after 12 cases were confirmed in the region, six of which were WACHS employees.

Broome has recorded nine cases of COVID-19, with two cases also confirmed in Kununurra and one in Halls Creek which is believed to have been a male doctor. In Kununurra, a health worker and quarantine checkpoint worker have contracted the virus.

Halls Creek hospital.
Camera IconHalls Creek hospital. Credit: Rob Duncan/WA News

WACHS chief executive Jeff Moffet said additional support had been deployed to Broome and Halls Creek to ensure health services were well equipped to respond to, and prevent any further spread of COVID-19.

“Two clinical teams will deploy to Broome and Halls Creek today to support the hard work of local staff on-the-ground,” he said.

“These teams are made up of specialist nurses and doctors from the Pilbara and metro area who have been appropriately risk assessed to ensure it’s safe for them to enter the Kimberley in line with current biosecurity restrictions.

“I know communities in the Kimberley are concerned but I want to be clear - our services remain operational and we will continue to do everything within our power to protect you from COVID-19.”

WA Country Health Service chief executive Jeff Moffet.
Camera IconWA Country Health Service chief executive Jeff Moffet. Credit: Mary Meagher/Kalgoorlie Miner

WACHS principal health officer Dr Helen Van Gessel said its first priority had been identifying and isolating any close contacts of the confirmed cases to prevent community transmission.

“All of our confirmed cases in the region are currently self-isolating and have been provided with a support network to ensure their health is closely monitored over the coming weeks,” she said.

“While contact tracing remains ongoing, we know that some of the confirmed cases are contacts of one another, others have a connection to travel, while one remains under investigation.

“Close contacts of these people have, and continue to be identified and where appropriate, moved into isolation as a precautionary measure.”

Dr Van Gessel said now, more than ever, it was important the community understood when and where they should seek testing for suspected COVID-19.

“In line with the latest public health advice, anyone in the State with fever and flu like symptoms should be tested,” she said.

“However, if you live in Broome or a remote Aboriginal community and have a fever or flu like symptoms, you should also be tested.”

She said testing was available at all WACHS hospitals and health services, clinics operated by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Aboriginal Medical Services and SilverChain, but advised patients to phone ahead where possible.

Flu like symptoms include shortness of breath, cough and sore throat while a fever is defined as having a temperature of 38 degrees or higher.

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