COVID-19 Update – March 23

Monday, 23 March, 2020On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the nation after a National Cabinet meeting.

In that address he announced a decision to close places where people gather in social groups regularly.

That included clubs, pubs, cinemas, casinos and nightclubs from Midday today (March 23). Restaurants and cafes will become takeaway only and measures have already been put in place by many local hospitality providers.

The PM has asked for co-operation around gatherings and social distancing to ensure no further measures are needed. These measures will be monitored monthly but there is an expectation they could be in place for as long as six months.

These measures, endorsed by the Prime Minister and the premiers and chief ministers of all states and territories, came about because of the blatant disregard of social distancing recommendations when it comes to mass gatherings.


EDUCATION AND EARLY CHILDHOOD

On Monday morning, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell briefed media in relation to schools and early childhood education providers.

At this stage, based on information from medical advisors, schools are remaining open HOWEVER it is recommended that if parents are able to keep children home, they do so.

Measures are being put in place to allow for increases in remote and digital learning, and teachers who are considered vulnerable should also look at whether they physically attend work or not.

SOAP IN SCHOOL

Given that at this point schools are still open, it is important to note that the NSW Government is aware of unprecedented demand for soap at schools, and the Department of Education has sourced additional supply.

I am informed that 3,000 cakes of soap are now being distributed to priority schools.

If a school is running low it needs to contact the Department of Education, and a hotline has been established for schools to contact the department should they or their suppliers be running low on soap and hygiene products (schools will have the hotline number).

The Department of Education will continue to be in regular contact with all principals to understand current levels of supplies of soap and hygiene products, but if you’re concerned about a shortage of soap and hygiene products at your school, contact the principal or email school.supplies@det.nsw.edu.au

LOCAL SITUATION

It is important to note that while testing is being undertaken, at the time of this release being distributed, there are no confirmed cases in Dubbo, Wellington, Narromine, Mudgee or the surrounding villages that make up the Dubbo electorate.

On Thursday of last week the Western NSW Local Health District confirmed a case of COVID-19 in Bathurst, and a further case in Orange, taking the wider region’s figure to five.

The NSW Government is now basing about 20 agencies dealing with the response to the COVID-19 outbreak at the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) headquarters at Lidcombe, including police, health, education and transport services, amongst others.

PANIC BUYING

Panic buying has been a hot topic of conversation in recent times, and it is irresponsible at a time when we need to be working together to ensure there is enough food, medication and sanitary products for everyone.

On Thursday I met with Dubbo pharmacist Greg Shearing to discuss the issues our chemists have been experiencing, with people stockpiling medications such as childrens Panadol and Nurofen, and asthma preventers such as Ventolin.

New rules have been introduced to stop this from happening, as there are vulnerable people in our communities who have been denied access to the medication they need.

As is the case with other forms of panic buying, whether it be food items of toilet paper and paper towels, panic buying is unnecessary and highly discouraged.

A video of myself with Mr Shearing can be found here and can be used by media organisations if they so desire to spread the message

NEW RULES TO ALLOW 24/7 DELIVERIES

A terrific decision was made by the NSW Government on Friday, allowing supermarkets across the State to receive deliveries 24 hours a day to restock their shelves.

Collaboration between Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes means the Government has moved to override local council rules that restrict some stores from restocking their shelves and operating their loading docks outside regular business hours.

The State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (COVID-19 Response) 2020 makes clear that truck deliveries are able to supply shops and retailers with essential goods at all times to support communities. The new rules apply immediately and will be kept in place until the crisis is over. 

PREVENTION

Everyone needs to be vigilant when it comes to personal hygiene. This means cleaning hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.

It also means covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow, avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms and practicing social distancing.

WHO SHOULD I SEE?

Hospitals are a last resort and should only be visited by people who have been overseas within the past 14 days, or those in direct contact with a confirmed case. If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, call your local GP or the Health Direct hotline (1800 022 222).

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