SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

532 is a big number.
But the State’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton was hinting yesterday that it might be the high point in Victoria’s ‘Second Wave’.
We hope he’s right.
In the meantime, however, country folk are very concerned about the big numbers of active cases in the Melbourne metro area impacting regional communities more than they are already.
The 47 new cases at Colac, outbreaks at aged care facilities in regional areas and the announcement last Friday of a positive case for a Gippsland Southern Health Service (GSHS) staff member has well and truly spooked locals, especially the elderly.
It’s noticeable that there are more masked people out and about as well as animated chatter on social media.
It highlights a few things.
(1.) We need better information in regional areas.
(2.) Controls on Melbourne metro people crossing over should be rigidly enforced
(3.) And locals should only be going to Melbourne for study, work and medical.
The location of positive cases has long been a problem in country areas with many former locals still listing places in Bass Coast and South Gippsland as their “home address” without living here for years.
It skews the health response and community anxiety levels.
Along the lines of what MP Melina Bath said at the weekend, a South Gippsland ‘positive’ could be anywhere from Poowong to Port Welshpool – we need postcode information (like NSW) and DHHS should collect data on where those being tested actually live.
It was also reasonable last Friday that GSHS be able to say the staff member who tested positive was not a clinical staff member, virtually giving the two hospitals the all clear for inpatients.
As many have said, however, we’ve got to imagine there are positive cases all around and strictly follow safe hygiene and social distancing rules, wear a mask when compromised and isolate when symptoms emerge.