03.04.2020 13:04 Age: 63 days

Kimberley COVID-19 update

The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) has taken immediate action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Kimberley and ensure service continuity following the announcement of 12 confirmed cases in the region – including six WACHS employees.

Principal Health Officer Dr Helen Van Gessel said the first priority had been identifying and isolating any close contacts of the confirmed cases to prevent community transmission.

“All of our confirmed cases in the region are currently self-isolating and have been provided with a support network to ensure their health is closely monitored over the coming weeks,” Dr Van Gessel said.

“While contact tracing remains ongoing, we know that some of the confirmed cases are contacts of one another, others have a connection to travel, while one remains under investigation.

“Close contacts of these people have, and continue to be identified and where appropriate, moved into isolation as a precautionary measure.”

WACHS Chief Executive Jeff Moffet also confirmed that additional support had been deployed to the region to ensure health services were well equipped to respond to, and prevent any further spread of COVID-19.

“Two clinical teams will deploy to Broome and Halls Creek today to support the hard work of local staff on-the-ground,” Mr Moffet said

“These teams are made up of specialist nurses and doctors from the Pilbara and metro area who have been appropriately risk assessed to ensure it’s safe for them to enter the Kimberley in line with current biosecurity restrictions.

“I know communities in the Kimberley are concerned but I want to be clear - our services remain operational and we will continue to do everything within our power to protect you from COVID-19.”

Dr Van Gessel said now, more than ever, it was important that the community understood when and where they should seek testing for suspected COVID-19.

“In line with the latest public health advice, anyone in the State with fever and flu like symptoms should be tested, however, if you live in the Town of Broome or a remote Aboriginal community and have a fever or flu like symptoms, you should also be tested,” she said.

Dr Van Gessel said testing was available at all WACHS hospitals and health services but asked the community to please phone ahead where possible.

“Testing across rural and regional WA can also be undertaken at clinics operated by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Aboriginal Medical Services and SilverChain,” she said.

Flu like symptoms included things like shortness of breath, cough and sore throat while a fever is defined as having a temperature of 38 degrees or higher.