South Australia’s borders swing open to the rest of the nation today, leaving many locals concerned about the imminent seeding of COVID-19 infections.
Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said while it was certain the virus would spread across the state and region, it was important for residents to remain calm.
“COVID is coming,” Mr Bell said.
“In a way there’s been so much fear put around this and people have done so well for so long.
“There are other states that are opening up and being able to manage the COVID outbreak.
“I just want to try and reassure people that even the vast majority of people who catch COVID will have mild symptoms.
“We have got to see the fear taken out of the rhetoric and the media around this and we have got to start living with it.
“I’d like to reassure the community.”
Mr Bell welcomed measures being taken at the Mount Gambier Hospital, which will see patients triaged and COVID positive cases now able to be treated locally.
“I have been talking about this for months now, I’m actually really pleased that I’m seeing action on the ground with a plan put in place for people from my community who contract COVID-19 being able to be treated locally,” he said.
“It’s good that those with medium to mild symptoms will be treated as close to home as possible.
“The idea of sending everybody to Adelaide was ludicrous and I’m really glad they have listened to the concerns that I had and put appropriate plans into action.
“Those who are in the serious range of course it’s very appropriate they be transferred to Adelaide.”
Mr Bell said the hospital facility would be complemented by the addition of a local medi-hotel for those who could not quarantine at home.
“It’s my belief they are looking to establish a medi-hotel in the lower Limestone Coast area somewhere,” Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell said.
“But they are having difficulty sourcing one for a range of reasons, one is reputational damage, secondly a number of the motels actually have strong bookings over the Christmas period and are being asked to trade off confirmed bookings versus an unknown. There could only be five people in a medi-hotel and they would have to close it all off.
“SA Health needs to realise the situation and our area is busy over the Christmas period and it’s not viable to forgo all the bookings that are being made, they would have to ring them all and cancel pre-existing bookings. I understand why they would be having trouble.”
Mr Bell said he also had concerns that businesses would be affected by positive cases, which could in turn discourage people from using QR codes.
“If you are double vaccinated and have a close contact you will get a message saying you have to isolate for seven days so it really is a disincentive for people to use QR codes,” he said.
“I think we need to be taking a more positive stance on this, if people have gone and gotten double vaccinated I was of the belief that freedoms would be opening up and you have to honour that.
“Of course they are going to stop using QR codes, nobody wants that message coming through that you were 10 minutes in a shop or in a premises and you are deemed a close contact, you need to go and do seven days of self isolation immediately.
“It’s a massive disincentive. People will stop QR coding – they have got to rethink that strategy.”