THE number of positive COVID-19 cases in Bass Coast has doubled, admittedly off a low base, to four cases, prompting a renewed call from local health authorities to “stay home”.

Meanwhile, according to figures released by the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS), South Gippsland’s numbers have remained at three.

But the low numbers locally could be as much as reflection of the small numbers tested as anything else.

Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child said the biggest concern now was community transmission of the disease noting that DHHS was expanding the testing regime to get a better handle on community transmission.

Coronavirus numbers in other Gippsland shire, and nearby local government areas, are as follows:

* Bass Coast 4

* Baw Baw (Warragul) 5

* East Gippsland 1

* Casey 37

* Cardinia 9

* Latrobe 5

* South Gippsland 3

* Wellington (Sale) 6

The total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Victoria was 1115 on Saturday, April 4. Victoria has recorded eight deaths related to COVID-19, 526 have recovered, while only 56,000 people have so far been tested statewide.

The gender breakdown is 587 males and 528 females.

By far, the biggest number of positive cases is in the 20 to 29 age group.

Details can be found on the DHHS website at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/media-hub-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

We can do more – Health CEO

Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child was asked to comment on the release of the latest regional figures.

“We know there are four in Bass Coast which is different to DHHS, but we are aware of four here,” Ms Child said.

“They’re not in the hospital and none of our staff have it, given 10% of those in healthcare are getting it.”

Commenting on the slowing in the increase in numbers generally, Ms Child said it was to be expected given the restrictions and with few planes landing and fewer people coming from overseas.

“Community transmission is what we are most concerned about because you don’t know where that is coming from and that is continuing to edge up. That’s the one we are watching.

“Which is why we are expanding our testing again. The department wants to know what is happening with community transition.”

Ms Child said testing was being extended now to anyone with respiratory illness or fever.

“We’re not just talking about healthcare workers and people who have returned from overseas. It’s anyone at all with fever symptoms of respiratory problems.”

Locally, in South Gippsland and Bass Coast, there are only two places you can be tested for coronavirus; at two clinics – one at the Wonthaggi hospital and the other at the Phillip Island Health Hub in Cowes.

“In the next two weeks we are looking at transitioning the clinics over to the GPs and they’re looking at setting up GP clinics in Wonthaggi, Foster and Phillip Island so that we can relieve ourselves of that work ready (clearing the way for admissions).

Ms Child said she wasn’t aware of plans to establish a COVID-19 testing place in Leongatha.

Gippsland Southern Health at Leongatha and Korumburra is not doing it.

“We are trying to ensure that the three hospitals at Koo Wee Rup, Foster and Leongatha remain free of COVID-19. If there is anyone reporting at any of those three, we will be moving them out. We are trying to keep those three clear.”

Numbers have stayed fairly low locally, so we asked Ms Child if she thinks people in the community are doing enough.

“Eighty per cent of people who do contract coronavirus show only mild or no symptoms so while you and I might be fine, it’s not going to be OK for your 82-year-old dad.

“That’s the real worry.

“We’re doing alright but the reality is we could be doing more, a lot more.”

Ms Child said people should “stay home” and stressed the four reasons for going out listed on the Premier Daniel Andrews’ Facebook page:

“Just a reminder that there are only four reasons why you should leave home,” Mr Andrews said.

  1. To shop for food and supplies that you need
  2. Medical care and caregiving
  3. Exercise
  4. Work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely.

“But people are doing beyond that when they don’t have to,” Ms Child said.

“People are going up the street for coffee and there are shops open, with non-essential goods that don’t have to be open, attracting people to go in and touch things that they don’t have to be touching.

“People should be staying home as much as possible, only going out for those four reasons and stopping the curve from going up by exposing themselves and others to greater risk.

“I don’t think people are doing enough. As we have seen from the police checking up, they’re not staying home in isolation when they should.

“We are also seeing reports of most people doing the right thing, which is good, but there are still people doing things that they don’t need to be doing.

“We’ve been told to stay home and that’s what we have to do if we want to keep control on community transmission.”