Caution urged as crowds return
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
WHEATBELT health officials and Toodyay police are cautioning people not to become complacent about observing social distancing rules and to keep washing their hands regularly as the State Government moves to ease Covid-19 restrictions in WA.
Permitted gatherings will increase from 20 to 100 people from Saturday June 6 but the illness can still be spread by people without symptoms who may be unaware they are infected.
Federal health officials said people need “to stay home if they have any cold or flu symptoms – no matter how mild – and get tested for Covid-19”.Read more
This would help prevent a “second wave” of infections after earlier restrictions had enabled Australia to “very successfully flatten the curve” of new Covid-19 cases, particularly in WA.
Toodyay residents are also being urged to seek clinical help for virus-related anxiety or distress after a 20 per cent increase in referrals to psychological support services.
Local cafes and shops showed a big increase in trade from Perth visitors in the last two weekends of May when the State government ended its Wheatbelt lockdown and eased social distancing rules.
However, many visitors appeared to be ignoring social distancing rules on crowded pavements and in the Charcoal Lane car park.
The virus has killed 370,000 people worldwide and more than 100 in Australia.
WA’s interstate and overseas borders stayed shut at the start of this month but travel to Perth and elsewhere in WA was allowed to resume from the third week of May.
Official figures show that about 10 per cent of Australia’s 7000 known infections were spread locally from unknown sources.
Infected people remain contagious for up to 14 days unless the virus takes hold and develops into a cough or fever.
State health officials say people still need to “keep 1.5m away from others where possible and maintain good personal hygiene” after restrictions ease from June 6.
The Wheatbelt Health Network says Covid-19 can be spread unknowingly by people without symptoms to others who then become contagious without symptoms and can again unknowingly pass to virus onto others who become ill.
“That’s why it’s important to maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres and continue to wash hands regularly – it’s a silent risk,” a Wheatbelt Health spokesman said.
“That’s also why it’s important for everyone with a smartphone to download the government’s COVIDsafe app so the virus can be traced through potential contacts and people at risk tested and, if necessary, isolated to prevent further spread.
“Six million people have done it so far.
“Healthy people with strong personal immune systems will defeat the virus after two weeks unless it develops into a cough or a fever,” the spokesperson said.
“Anyone who feels unwell should stay home and self-isolate to stop any potential spread and call a doctor for advice.”
The spokesperson said one good outcome from social distancing restrictions was a “phenomenal” drop in the number of people seeking medical treatment for common colds and influenza.
“A lot more people this year also had flu vaccinations, which helped to reduce the number of reported cases at clinics and hospitals,” the spokesperson said.
However, the virus has caused a 20 per cent increase in the number of Toodyay people seeking clinical help to deal with emotional distress, including anxiety about financial concerns and personal relationships.
Local clinical psychologist Richard Taylor said people experiencing anxiety or distress could call Toodyay’s Alma Beard Medical Centre for a doctor’s referral to his bulk-billing practice to get tele-help support at home via a smartphone, tablet or computer, or visit his clinic.
“This makes it much easier for people living in rural areas to get help, he said.
“A lot of my work is now done this way.”
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