Virus, cold or flu?

IF you think you might have the coronavirus, think twice before you head off to the doctors, chemist or hospital.

A hotline has been set up by the government where you can ring to ask questions so please put this number in your phone: 1800 020 080.

Locals are being encouraged to self-assess before heading to a medical centre and not put others at risk.

Wakefield Plains Medical Centre GP, Tom Lemon, said as there will be constant ongoing changes, be sensible and listen to ongoing advice from reliable sources.

“And above all, don’t panic,” he said.

Residents are strongly encouraged to ring their surgery during business hours, or local hospital after hours, if they have any respiratory symptoms and feel they either need to be seen or want advice, including about being tested.

Tom said patients would then be offered advice as to the best management plan.

“Ideally we do not want patients with flu-like symptoms entering any facilities unless necessary.”

People at higher risk with recent travel or contact with potential cases are the predominant people who need to be tested.

Testing would ideally be performed outside the surgery/hospital in a vehicle with the doctor/nurse in appropriately recommended protective gear.

At risk patients who are particularly unwell would obviously have to go to hospital for potential treatment again after ringing first.

Tom said the hospital is setting aside an assessment/ treatment room and encouraging entrance from the administration end of the building to distance any cases as much as possible from the remainder of the building including the nursing home.

Tom said if symptoms are mild, to stay at home and limit any possible transmission, as most respiratory illnesses are still likely to be colds.

“There is a limit on testing kits and overtesting in those who don’t need it, will quickly sap the resources,” he said.

“Protect the elderly and vulnerable – they are the biggest at risk groups who will be in serious trouble if contracting the virus.

“Most of us will feel unwell but quickly recover but the over 75s are at high risk of complications – in this regard minimise visits to nursing homes unless absolutely necessary.

Health authorities are also encouraging people to get a flu shot this year, and while it wont protect against coronavirus, will help against the influenza virus, so contact your local health professional.