COVID-19 update

Monday 4 January 2021

Positive cases of COVID-19 in Victoria have increased in the past 24hrs. As contact tracing continues, details of exposure sites are also likely to increase. Instructions for people returning from NSW are outlined in this article.

A list of each exposure site including dates and times can be found here.

Intermittent re-emergence of COVID-19 is expected to occur until a vaccination program has been successfully rolled out across Australia.

Ballarat Health Services is prepared for this and has systems in place to respond to and manage outbreaks. 

Last week we enacted COVID-19 community transmission re-emergence plans to ensure that – as much as possible - our patients, staff and the community are protected from this highly infectious virus. 

With each re-emergence there will be unique challenges, and this latest outbreak came when many were travelling to see loved ones for the first time in months, and to have a well-earned break.  The rapid closure of the NSW border created a massive influx of people requiring testing. 

We understand that many – if not most – of those giving and receiving tests have had much-needed holidays thrown into chaos.  

Thank you to the Ballarat community for their support and understanding over the long weekend, and thank you to staff across Ballarat Health Services, Ballarat Community Health, and UFS for the superb work they did over recent days in meeting this demand. 

Craig Wilding, Acting CEO and Executive Director Primary and Community Care  

 Ballarat Health Services community transmission reemergence plans include: 

  • increasing resources to support Ballarat’s primary testing facility - the UFS Respiratory Clinic - by opening the Little Bridge Street Clinic to support overflow testing demand as required
  • adjusting visitor access to Ballarat Health Services, to limit the movement of non-essential people within our facilities
  • enhanced screening and testing of patients and Aged Care Residents upon return or admission to facilities
  • enhanced PPE and entry requirements for staff, visitors and patients within our facilities 

Over the long weekend, Victoria boosted testing capacity by 40% by extending hours, recalling staff from annual leave, bringing on board agency staff, and working with pathology services to increase capacity.  We will continue to operate extended hours until there is no longer a need.  

Any Victorians currently quarantining can access emergency assistance including help to access medical/pharmaceutical services, food relief, and financial support.  

We also urge family and friends to support those in quarantine, by phoning and dropping supplies to their door if possible.  

Is your home COVID-safe? 

If you have not travelled, but a member of your household has travelled and they need to quarantine, please ensure you can maintain safe infection control measures within your household.  This will reduce your risk of exposure and reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the community. 

Maintaining safe infection control measures in your home includes:  

  • staying and sleeping in a different room to other people as much as possible. 
  • using a separate bathroom if available. 
  • not having people to visit you inside your home or accommodation. 
  • ensuring you stay at least 1.5 metres from others in the home. 
  • not sharing food and drink.  
  • not sharing household items like forks, knives, plates or glasses. 
  • Washing hands thoroughly and often. 

We all need to work together to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, to get on top of this latest outbreak in Victoria, and until a vaccine has been successfully rolled out across Australia. 

These outbreaks are likely to continue occurring until that roll-out, so take this time to review your household COVID-safe processes and touch base with support networks. 

 

Testing 

As a result of this latest outbreak, over the weekend there was high demand and longer than usual wait times for testing across Victoria. This is easing, but we urge the community to please be patient while waiting for a test and follow the quarantine guidelines. 

Please also reach out by phone to friends and family if you need assistance with shopping for supplies.   

UFS Respiratory Clinic – by appointment only  

Book Online or call 03 4311 1571 

Little Bridge Street Clinic – by appointment only  

Call 03 5320 8889 

Other testing clinics 

Click here for testing clinics across Victoria.     

 

If you are unwell and/or need medical assistance (non-COVID-19 illnesses) 

If you are unwell and/or require medical care you should seek medical care – speak with your local GP, and attend appointments as advised 

Do not avoid or delay existing appointments or treatment plans. 

If you have a life-threatening condition and require urgent medical care call 000 and/or come to the Emergency Department. 

 

If you become unwell with COVID-19 

If you have tested positive and have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance. 

The following website provides useful advice for people who have tested positive for COVID-19. https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/what-to-do-if-you-have-coronavirus-covid-19  

Have something to tell us? We welcome all feedback from patients, family members or carers. Tell us more.