Small towns can be impacted by COVID-19 too, says The Rural Doctors Association of Australia and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.
The organisations have issued a warning to rural and remote Australians who think their town is too isolated to be impacted by COVID-19, that they should think again.
Clinical Lead for RDAA and ACRRM's COVID-19 Rural and Remote Response Dr Adam Coltzau said news travelled fast in the bush - and so would coronavirus unless more rural Australians ensured they were doing the right thing and self-isolating.
"Cases of coronavirus have already been confirmed in numerous rural communities," he said.
"But some rural Australians are still walking around in La-La Land, thinking COVID-19 is only a big city issue.
"This couldn't be further from the truth. The hard fact is that COVID-19 infections will increase in rural and remote Australia.
"As a rural or remote Australian, you must now do the right thing to reduce the spread of the virus and reduce your risk of getting it.
"Whenever possible, you and your immediate family members should self-isolate at home - and work from home where that is possible.
"It is also critical that those from the cities or other regions - including your distant family members - refrain from coming to your community at this time, as this will be a sure-fire way for the virus to spread.
"It will also put incredible pressure on our local health services and hospitals if they fall ill with COVID-19 while in your community, and we can't guarantee we'll be able to provide the care they may need."
Dr Coltzau said now was not a time to panic, but it was a time for rural Australians to help protect themselves and their community by acting for the common good.
Stawell Medical Centre general practitioner Dr Catherine Pye said she felt there was a real feeling of caring and concern within our community.
"I believe this caring and concern for each other is what will get us through the coronavirus pandemic," she said.
"I don't want the virus to come to Stawell, and yes, I believe we can stop its spread here.
"I feel the best way to stop the virus coming to Stawell is to prevent the movement of people in and out of our town.
"Now is the time to decide where you want to be while we are in this crisis and to stay put. As someone mentioned 'if we all stay in our own little home bubbles and act as if we have the virus, then this will stop the spread.'
"Please protect those who are ill and those who are older, as these are the most vulnerable.
"Teenagers and families need extra support and our help, as they find new ways to stay connected to their friends. We all need to think of ways to reduce the exposure to this virus to keep everyone safe."
Dr Pye said she was making sure she was available to her patients via the Telehealth system.
"Many things can be done over the computer or via phone," she said.
"People can ring the Medical Centre and they will be sent a link via an email. From that link, they can log in and register and can talk to a doctor via a system.
"The benefit of the system is the patient doesn't have to leave their own home. This is particularly important for this who are in the at-risk group."
Dr Pye said Telehealth can be used for many things, not just for diagnosing symptoms surrounding the coronavirus.
"We can continue chronic disease management plans and we can work through mental health care plans," she said.
"I know in South Australia and overseas Telehealth has been used in the management of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
"Those patients who are able to stay at home and be managed from their own homes are encouraged to stay home. We know 80 per cent of people who do test positive can be managed this way. Those people can have virtual face-to-face talks with a doctor to check on how they are going."
Dr Pye said residents needed to follow the golden rules.
"Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds and do this frequently throughout the day, especially if you have been out for any reason," she said.
"Avoid touching your face. Cover your face when you cough or sneeze.
"Stay a safe distance, at least 1.5 metres, from everyone and follow government regulations regarding non-essential activity."
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