Coronavirus COVID-19: Western NSW and how immune is it to the impending pandemic

GLOBAL ISSUE: There may have been no coronavirus cases in Western NSW but community members are concerned, GPs say. Photo: FILE
GLOBAL ISSUE: There may have been no coronavirus cases in Western NSW but community members are concerned, GPs say. Photo: FILE

THERE may have been no confirmed coronavirus cases in the Central West, but GPs are reporting that people are concerned about the impending pandemic.

Globally there have been more than 81,300 confirmed cases of the virus which has caused 2770 deaths.

In Australia, 22 people have coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, including four in NSW.

Nobody in the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) has been diagnosed as having coronavirus.

Bathurst GP Dr Pav Phanindra said patients are concerned about the virus and the only place in the world that has not had COVID-19 is Antarctica.

"Given that it's spread from China to Italy and to Iran, there is no place that's immune," he said.

Given that it's spread from China to Italy and to Iran, there is no place that's immune.

Bathurst GP Dr Pav Phanindra

"There is a lot of movement of people between places, a lot of people from Bathurst go to Sydney for work."

Dr Phanindra said COVID-19 was airborne and droplet spread and that good respiratory and hand hygiene was vital.

He urged anyone with respiratory symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath or a cough to seek medical advice.

Orange GP Dr David Howe has also had concerned patients since the COVID-19 outbreak.

"If someone does have flu like symptoms I ask them if they've been overseas lately," he said.

"I also had another person who was travelling to Asia and wanted a letter of good health from me.

GLOBAL ISSUE: Respiratory symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath or a cough are symptoms of the coronavirus. Photo: FILE

GLOBAL ISSUE: Respiratory symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath or a cough are symptoms of the coronavirus. Photo: FILE

"I think here in Orange we're still pretty isolated and we don't have a lot of Chinese nationals walking around or people wearing face masks."

A WNSWLHD spokeswoman said all four NSW people with coronavirus have recovered and follow up has occurred to contain further spread from these patients.

"NSW Health, including all local health districts, is prudently planning for a pandemic to care for patients with COVID-19," she said.

The spokeswoman said all hospitals in the WNSWLHD are equipped to treat a person with COVID-19.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) president Dr Harry Nespolon said while it is vital that COVID-19 is taken seriously, there is no need for undue alarm in Western NSW.

He urged anyone with respiratory symptoms to see their GP.

"Patients who have also travelled from mainland China or who have had close contact with a confirmed case, should call ahead and warn of their symptoms rather than just turning up in a waiting room," he said.

"GPs know what to do as we have dealt with viruses like this one before.

"It's essential that GPs and everyone in the community practice good hand hygiene ... it is a small step that can make an enormous difference when it comes to viruses such as COVID-19.

"I know the news reports can seem alarming, but there is no need for healthy people to take measures such as wearing masks as they go about their day to day life."

What is coronavirus or COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

It was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where it has caused a large and ongoing outbreak. It has since spread more widely in China. Cases have since been identified in several other countries. The COVID-19 virus is closely related to a bat coronavirus.

Outbreaks of new coronavirus infections among people are a public health concern. The situation is evolving rapidly.

What are the symptoms?

Patients may have fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath and other symptoms.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.

COVID-19 symptoms can take up to 14 days to present.

What if you've been travelling?

People who have travelled to countries where COVID-19 is occurring in the last 14 day should seek medical care if they develop repository symptoms or fever.

The RACGP encourages testing if you are experiencing symptoms, and:

  • You have been in mainland China within the past 14 days
  • You have come into close contact with someone confirmed as having COVID-19

The RACGP said the risk of COVID-19 in the following countries is possible, but relatively low:

  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Thailand

Stay up-to-date with the latest travel advice on the Australian Government's Smart Traveller site.

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This story Patients concerned about coronavirus in Western NSW first appeared on Mudgee Guardian.