The coordinator of Mildura Base Hospital’s COVID-19 response has appealed to Mildura residents to defer any non-essential travel as a measure to protect the community from COVID-19.

Mildura Base Hospital Director of Intensive Care Dr Alison Walker said the Mallee region remains free of active confirmed COVID-19 cases at this stage.

“But with the escalation we are seeing in Melbourne, and just having come through the school holidays when there would have been significant people movement, we just don’t know how we will be placed in a week or two,” Dr Walker said.

“All of our strategies are in place, and we are very hopeful that nothing will emerge locally – but in the meantime, our very clear message to Mildura and Mallee residents is to stay put, if they can,” she said.

“The only way for COVID-19 to arrive here is if someone brings it in, and if there is very little people movement, that opportunity is reduced.”

Dr Walker said symptomatic patients at MBH are continuing to be managed through a strict “COVID-19 pathway”.

“That means, anyone who arrives at the hospital with any symptoms that might be COVID-19 are triaged away to our COVID ward and they remain isolated from the general hospital population,” she said.

“They’re treated with the precautions that they have the virus, until we know they don’t have it.

“The pathway has been in place for more than three months now, and it’s second nature to everyone here – in that time, we have had more than 360 patients who have been placed on the COVID-19 pathway, but thankfully, with no confirmed cases so far.”

Dr Walker said if COVID-19 cases did emerge in the local community, the strategies of containment would come into effect.

“In the meantime, people should continue to behave as if coronavirus is active in our community – stay home if you can, and if you have any symptoms at all that are COVID-19 symptoms, please get tested,” she said.

“Everyone has a role to play – wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, and cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough.

“Importantly, if you are sick, don’t go to work, don’t go out and see friends or family.  We need to keep working together, as we have done right through, to minimise the potential of spreading the infection.”