TOODYAY is in emergency lockdown as local doctors, police, the Shire of Toodyay, schools, churches and shops take drastic action to help stop the deadly Covid-19 virus spreading through the Wheatbelt.
All local churches and hotels have shut, liquor store sales are restricted, school attendance is now voluntary, many shops are shut and travel to Perth is banned except for approved purposes such as work or health.Read more
It is uncertain if schools will re-open after the three-week Easter break starts on Thursday April 9, and all local museums, indoor sports venues and libraries have closed for the next six months.
Visitors from outside the Wheatbelt – including Perth – can no longer travel to Toodyay, causing local job losses and cutting hours for workers in local businesses that rely heavily on tourism.
The Federal Government’s Centrelink welfare agency and some banks are offering temporary financial relief.
Supplies of essential products such as toilet paper which ran out in Toodyay late last month are expected to return to normal this month when fresh supplies arrive in WA after logistical delays of up to 10 days in eastern states freight deliveries to Perth.
Local doctors are telling patients with virus symptoms (left) – a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or blocked nose, or fever – not to go to Toodyay’s medical centre but stay home and call 9574 2500 (or 1800 225 523 after hours) for help.
All callers will be offered a Telehealth appointment at home via their phone or various video apps.
Face-to-face visits will be available only by prior telephone request and with the approval of a health practitioner.
As in all other public places, medical centre visitors are required to stay a ‘social distance’ of at least 1.5 metres (five feet) from others (below), and waiting room chairs have been placed farther apart.
State health authorities are urging everyone to wash their hands thoroughly – front and back – for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice) as frequently as possible, particularly after touching door handles, money, benchtops, desks, chairs and other items touched by other people.
People are also warned not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth – particularly in public – unless they first wash their hands thoroughly with soap.
Shaking hands and unnecessary physical contact with others is to be avoided at all times.
The WA Health Department says people don’t need to wear face masks (below) unless they have virus symptoms and need to stop it spreading through coughs and sneezes.
Toodyay’s Wheatbelt Health Network says Covid-19 can seem similar to ordinary influenza and normal coughs and colds.
People with any such symptoms should stay at home and call the Toodyay medical centre for advice.
Caution is needed because people can have Covid-19 but not show symptoms.
New vaccines for ordinary influenza are expected to become available soon but a Covid-19 vaccine has yet to be developed.
Elderly people and those with lung disease, diabetes or suppressed immune systems as the result of cancer treatments or chronic illness are more vulnerable to Covid-19 than others in the general community.
About 30 per cent of Toodyay’s estimated 4400 residents are older than 60, and another 20 per cent are aged between 50 and 60.
Visits to aged care facilities are now restricted, and people wanting to see relatives and friends living in units for older residents such as at Toodyay’s Butterly Cottages should use special care.
Limiting social contact will reduce the spread and impact of the virus, and shorten the recovery time for a return to normal life.
Local restaurants and cafes are now allowed to sell only takeaway food and drink, and customers must leave as soon as they receive their purchases and stay at least 1.5m apart in doorways and queues.
Toodyay police are urging all local residents to stay home as much as possible unless they need to buy food, go to work or travel for other essential reasons.
There will be no local Anzac Day Dawn Service, Parade or Gunfire Breakfast in Toodyay on April 25, and no Moondyne Festival next month.
The shire is continuing essential services such as rubbish collections but now prefers payments by card or cheques, or bank transfers (call 9574 9300).
In safe hands ‒ Shire of Toodyay crisis management leadership team (from left): Works and Services Manager Scott Patterson, Acting CEO Chileya Luangala and Emergency Manager Kylie Neaves.