Covid response unclear

COVID RESPONSE: Limestone Coast Local Health Network chair Grant King says the network was continuing planning in regards to a Covid-19 outbreak within the region.

Charlotte Varcoe

HEALTH officials are yet to release details about what quarantine facilities will be available in the Limestone Coast to deal with a Covid-19 outbreak once borders open.

Officials have said they are continuing to look at options across the region with 10 days until South Australia opens its state borders.

SA Health said it continues to work with local health networks and a wide range of stakeholders in its planning for Covid, include quarantine facilities.

Currently, the Mount Gambier and District Hospital has two negative pressure rooms and 10 ventilators for Covid-positive patients with a vast majority of patients expected to be treated in their homes via virtual care.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network chair Grant King expressed the importance for regional areas to play its role in supporting metropolitan South Australia in response to potential Covid-19 outbreaks.

“We are currently continuing planning which will show that we have a good, safe service and are working as an overall state response,” Mr King said.

“We recognise consideration on how regions respond to Covid and will continue working with the department.”

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said it was pleasing SA Health and local health networks had plans in place, yet stated it was necessary for it to be released in detail.

“I am happy to comply with whatever needs to be done, however we need that communication so members of the community can get themselves prepared for a Covid outbreak and find out what impact it will have on businesses, staff and others,” Mr Bell said.

“If SA Health thinks that regional quarantine is a necessary step, then I think it is too however the borders open in 10 days and this should be in a testing phase now and already announced.”

Mr Bell said the announcement of future plans came very late and provided anxiety among the business community.

“I am calling for SA Health to communicate with the community and businesses around what steps will need to be taken if a Covid-positive patient attends a business because we are the second largest city in South Australia and we will have an increased percentage of Covid here because we are so close to the borders,” he said.

“I am concerned about the lack of communication and information as well as the plans but I will trust that SA Health has adequate plans.

“We need the communication and assurance that everything is under control particularly for our businesses.”

Shadow Minister for Health Chris Picton also expressed concern for the South East, stating planning had not been sufficient enough for the community.

“The South East community had been let down by the government who needed to make sure plans are in place,” Mr Picton said.

“We are about to open the borders with the South East – the closest region to Victoria where most of the cases are with no available plan currently in place to manage cases.”

Mr Picton echoed Mr Bell’s comments, calling for better communication with regional communities leading up to the borders reopening.

“There has been no communication with the community about the plan or how outbreaks will be managed, what the requirements are for those in quarantines or those identified as close contact,” he said.

“We are days away from opening the borders and people still don’t know.”

Minister for Health Stephen Wade said the government would continue to deliver a strong Covid-ready plan in time for the borders to open with restrictions planned to ease as the state reached key vaccination levels.

“South Australians can have every confidence that when our borders reopen, our health system is well placed to provide the community with access to world-class health care, as needed,” Mr Wade said.

“As we move closer to reaching our vaccination targets, we are building a stronger, more agile health system to ensure residents have access to the care they need when we relax our borders and learn to live with Covid in the community.

“We are adding hundreds of beds, in both public and private hospitals, as well as out-of-hospital care services that provide hospital level care in a person’s home environment.”