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    Member for Lowan Emma Kealy.

Kealy call to arms for regional solidarity in COVID-19 crisis

By DEAN LAWSON

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has called for regional solidarity and discipline to suppress growing COVID-19 infection in Horsham.

Ms Kealy, who has a background in biomedical science, appealed for people to ‘go hard’ during the next month in tightening up defensive efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Ms Kealy said Wimmera people were good at and well experienced at taking control of their own destiny and now was the time to call on those adaptive skills.



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She said people now clearly understood preventative measures to avoid catching or spreading the disease and instead of simply waiting for state or national updates and direction, should automatically adopt a defensive position.

“We can’t afford to completely rely on governments and health services to manage this crisis,” she said.

“In our part of western Victoria we’ve never been able to do this in the past, regardless of all sorts of pressing needs. So we need, to a high degree, to take charge ourselves.

“Let’s not wait to be told. Let’s recognise the signs, take note of what’s happened in places such as Colac, and respond.

“We know what to do so let’s do it and not wait for Melbourne to tell us what to do. We must take control of our own destiny.

“While it might or might not be, we must assume that the virus is everywhere and while going about what we do with family, business, work and play, let’s force ourselves to take precautions.

“Let’s just step it up for the next month so we can get on top of it. 

“Let’s wear masks in public, keep our distance from each other, wash and disinfect hands regularly and follow clearly defined rules. 

“If in doubt about something, err on the side of not doing it.”

Ms Kealy called for the disciplined approach as the number of active COVID-19 cases in Horsham rose to seven and amid community uncertainty about how the Department of Health and Human Services was keeping up with ever-changing situations and communicating circumstances in the region.

In response to positive COVID-19 cases, St Brigid’s College in Horsham has closed for cleaning until August 10 and 50 students and teaching staff, considered ‘contacts’, are isolating. 

Federation University Australia’s Wimmera campus in Horsham has  undergone cleaning and disinfecting and has reopened to staff members and students approved to be on campus. The majority of staff and students are continuing to work and study from home.

Wimmera Health Care Group has also stepped up virus-testing capabilities by providing drive-through services at its clinic in Read Street.

The virus has also appeared in Warracknabeal with the health department alerting Warracknabeal Secondary College of a COVID-19 case at the school.

Principal Therese Allen emailed parents and guardians of children at the school on Monday night, informing them that students were to stay at home until further notice.

She said in a letter the health service was investigating the case and the school would close to all students, staff and members of the community while it awaited further advice.

Yesterday, Northern Grampians and West Wimmera shires recorded their first official COVID-19 cases for several months.

Details provided by the Department of Health and Human Services showed both officially have one active case each.

The DHHS list showed Ararat, Yarriambiack and Hindmarsh had yet to officially record any new cases in the latest wave of infections.

DHHS has stressed that case locations are based on ‘residential addresses provided when the case is notified. Locations are not where people were infected and may not be where the case currently resides’.

Ms Kealy said a community-wide response was about everyone working together – albeit at a distance – and ensuring it remained a caring and compassionate part of the world.

“We have to look out for each other. If someone tests positive to this virus, instead of treating them like some sort of villain, we must ensure they know they have our support. COVID-19 does not discriminate,” she said.

Ms Kealy said she would explore establishing a community support committee to help people cope with circumstances.

She said she would also write to elderly people in her electorate asking them to get in touch with her office in Horsham if they needed help with day-to-day living support and-or to get access to masks. 

Meanwhile, latest travel restrictions on the Victorian-South Australian border mean only people who live within a 40-kilometre radius of the border will be eligible for Cross Border Community status.

A Victorian Cross Border Community member must not travel more than 40 kilometres into South Australia. A South Australian Cross Border Community member who travels more than 40km into Victoria must complete 14 days of quarantine on returning to South Australia.

Cross Border Community members can only move between Victoria and South Australia for employment or education; to provide or receive care and support; or obtain food, fuel, supplies or medical care.

 

The entire July 29, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire July 29, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!