Victims of our own COVID success

16 November 2020

South Australia’s success in curtailing the coronavirus may also have contributed to the latest alarming outbreak as people became more relaxed.

“The reality is that the system, both the community at large and the health system, has become somewhat a bit more relaxed because we weren’t seeing the virus with all the testing that was happening,’’ ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM told ABC Radio’s David Bevan this morning.

“So, it’s an environment now of saying ‘OK, well there has been a bit of a relaxation, we need to stop that’.

“There has been a greater congregation of people, that really needs to be looked at urgently, there has been a really rapid increase or escalation in activity in our hospital and health system … so the more activity, the more congregation, the less precautions is really the environment in which this virus can thrive,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“So, I think the community as a whole and the health system in general really needs to return to those good controls and those precaution mechanisms (social distancing, good hand hygiene and cough etiquette).

“We today will be alerting our members and saying ‘look, we really need to go back to all of those precautions’.

“We need the support of the community at large as well because the reality is this can affect everyone, it can spread really quickly and we need the community at large to help the health workforce to keep it under control because it’s about us being able to help them too.’’

Ms Dabars said about 90 people from the Lyell McEwin Hospital were in self-isolation after a confirmed case at the ED.

“You would expect a large proportion of those would be nursing staff and you’d also expect a large proportion of those to be emergency department staff,’’ she told the ABC.

The vast majority of them have since been cleared to return to work.

“And I think this is another very, very serious issue which is how we are going to manage that workforce if we need to have the workforce urgently put into lockdown themselves and isolated for the protection of other staff and patients?,’’ Ms Dabars told ABC Radio.

“We are asking those questions about how they are proposing to manage that workforce given that the demands, again if there is exposure, would be expected to escalate as well.

“So, we are at a really critical time, we are concerned but it is a matter of the community at large and the workforce working together to try and bring it under control as quickly as possible.’’