Coronavirus cases reach undisclosed SW location

Warren Hately and Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Corona Virus / COVID-19 People queue at Centrelink after the government shuts down many industries to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Camera IconCorona Virus / COVID-19 People queue at Centrelink after the government shuts down many industries to slow the spread of Covid-19. Credit: The West Australian

WA’s Health Department is refusing to disclose the location of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the South West amid numerous claims by residents that the virus had arrived in Margaret River and Busselton.

On Wednesday, the South West had six confirmed cases.

An unnamed Health Department spokesperson said locations could not be confirmed because, “We are obliged to protect patient confidentiality”.

“The department is working through contact tracing details for all confirmed cases,” they said.

“Anyone categorised as close contacts of a confirmed case are contacted and provided with information. Any information considered to be in the public interest will be released to the community.”

Residents are urged to act as if COVID-19 is now within regional communities and adhere to all Government warnings on social distancing and self-isolation.

Doctors this week assumed control of Capes pandemic medical preparations. Insiders confirmed preparations had ramped up to prepare Bunbury Hospital and Busselton Health Campus for intensive-care capacity.

“I feel like a frontline soldier and I’m going to be leading a bunch of people for a battle we’re not prepared for and without the equipment we need,” a specialist, who asked not to be named, said.

Australian Medical Association WA president Dr Andrew Miller said doctors were in the dark on too many matters. “We’ve called on the Government to give us a full and frank briefing on regional, remote and city operations,” he said.

“They’re in the midst of the biggest crisis in our lifetimes.

“This is what happens if you don’t give people information — lies will fill the vacuum and people will get more and more anxious.”

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said the Government had to come clean on cases in the South West.

“There does need to be greater disclosure, as we haven’t been testing for community spread until now, though from this week if you have a fever and a cough you can get tested, which is a real positive,” she said.

“I understand that if we continue on the same trajectory of increase in infection, our hospitals’ ICUs will be at capacity at a State level by early April, which is why we must respect self-isolation and the advice provided at a State and Federal level.”

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