The Wimmera's healthcare providers are remaining vigilant over the coronavirus outbreak after recent developments saw the federal government activate its emergency response plan to an impending pandemic.
The COVID-19 plan outlines a "precautionary approach" and warns hospitals, and primary care services would be placed under "severe pressure" should a 'moderate' coronavirus outbreak occur.
As of February 27, 23 cases had been confirmed in Australia, after a seventh Victorian tested positive to coronavirus on Tuesday.
West Wimmera Health Service chief executive Ritchie Dodds said the triggering of the emergency response had yet to affect the service, but it was continuing with preparedness procedures.
"It hasn't affected us specifically, nothing has affected us on the ground yet," he said. "It's a wait and see process for us. We know that the Department of Health and Human Services is doing everything it reasonably can to be prepared and monitor the situation."
Recent outbreaks of the virus in South Korea, Europe and the Middle East have seen the number of new cases confirmed outside China - where the virus originated - exceed the number of new cases in China for the first time.
Victoria's Chief Health Officer warned "a pandemic is very likely, if not inevitable" on social media.
Mr Dodds said local health services were monitoring the situation together.
"We're working closely with our neighbouring agencies, which of course includes the Wimmera Health Care Group and Rural Northwest Health and making sure we're all keeping each advised on our preparation," he said. "If anything comes through we'd certainly be tackling it on a joint basis."
Stawell Regional Health chief executive Kate Pryde said providers were receiving guidance from state and federal bodies.
"We are required to ensure the appropriate level of readiness as prescribed by the Department of Health and Human Services and Chief Medical Officer advice," she said. "There is a coordinated regional approach supported by the DHHS. The regional Infection Control Network is also supporting."
Wimmera Health Care Group acting director of medical services Dr John Christie said his team had not treated any patient for coronavirus to date.
"We want our communities to be assured that the WHCG is equipped and well-prepared to respond to any respiratory infectious disease that a patient may have, or be suspected of having, including COVID-19," Dr Christie said.
East Grampians Health Service director of medical services Dr Sophie Ping said community members could take preventive steps if they were worried about the virus.
"EHGS is supportive of anyone who wishes to protect themselves or members of the community from potential infection by using personal protection equipment such as masks," Dr Ping said.
"We also encourage community members who are eligble for fluvax and the pneumococcal vaccine to access these as soon as they become available.
"If anyone is concerned that they may be infected, please call your local medical centre for advice regarding where and how to attend for assessment, to avoid putting other people at risk"
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