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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

More Grafton Covid cases uncovered

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QR codes, masks and tests please
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Alumy Creek Angus - Stud Angus Sires Tenterfield - Top of the Range Angus Genetics

More Grafton Covid cases uncovered

By Tim Howard

There will be more Covid-19 cases arising from the four discovered in Grafton earlier this week, but authorities hope a lockdown won’t be needed.
While the rest of NSW is planning how it will come out of lockdown, the Clarence Valley finds itself holding its breath while investigations continue into a cluster that emerged on Tuesday.
Health authorities said contact tracers were still working, but there would be an announcement of more cases on Friday.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis was hopeful a strict lockdown would not be needed to deal with at least four cases that were uncovered Grafton on Tuesday.
“I asked (Northern NSW Local Health District acting CEO) Lynne Weir if it meant we’d go into lockdown, but she said it was too early to tell,” Mr Gulaptis said.
“With the rest of the State opening up on Monday unless there is a significant number of cases, I can’t see us going into lockdown.”
Health authorities have contact tracers investigating the extent of the spread of the disease in the Clarence, but would not put a number on any new cases.
A spokesperson for the Northern NSW Local Health District said NSW Health contact tracers were tracking down contacts and places those infected had visited.
“It there’s a private venue with one or two cases, that won’t be identified, but if it’s a public venue, then it will be named,” the spokesperson said.
A list of close contact venues could be released later today or on Friday.
Behind the scenes health staff in the region have concerns the vaccine mandate could force a number of resignations as case numbers threaten to grow.
One source said at least three nurses at Grafton would resign or have resigned because of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination.
But the health district was not concerned about staffing.
Ms Weir said during the early stages of the pandemic, it sourced additional equipment, including ventilators, and we regularly review our stocks and supply chains of resources, including PPE and pharmacy items, to ensure adequate supplies.
“Our workforce has been increased and up-skilled, with more than 265 staff attending surge training in intensive care, emergency care and immunisation specialties to provide additional capacity if needed,” Ms Weir said.
“Between mid-2012 and mid-2021, NNSWLHD increased its workforce by an additional 1219 full-time equivalent staff – an increase of 32.3 per cent including 211 more doctors, 461 more nurses and midwives, and 141 more allied health staff.
“It is important to remember that the vast majority of people who have COVID-19 do not require hospitalisation. Most will have mild disease and be able to isolate at their own home, or have clinical staff support them through community care.”
She said leave requests were also scrutinised carefully to ensure they did not conflict with staffing requirements.
She said the public was able to play a major part in combating the virus.
“To reduce the rate of serious illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19, vaccination on a national scale is essential,” she said.
“The more community members who are vaccinated against COVID-19, the better protected our region will be from any future outbreaks.”
Mr Gulaptis thanked the Clarence community for its vaccination uptake.
“While our region is seeing a steady increase each week, we can’t take our foot off the pedal if we want to hit the 70 and 80 percent double vaccination milestones,” he said.
“New figures show the Clarence Valley has reached 83.9% single dose and 50.3% double dose and in the Richmond Valley 78.7% have had their first dose and 49.8 their second dose.
“This is comparable with other regional areas. Overall, first dose rates in the region are increasing about 5% per week, which is on par with national vaccination trends.”

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2022 Floods

Housing demand creates planning challenges

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Housing demand creates planning challenges

The current lack of affordable and diverse housing for buyers and renters is a crisis which is confronting all levels of government.

A move to regional areas, limited government investment in social housing, a boom in short terms rentals, COVID-19, the recent floods and inflation have put great pressures on the property market.

While housing is primarily the responsibility of federal and state governments, Tweed Shire Council plays a key role as a determining authority/regulator for housing and planning law.

 

Council acts on unauthorised dwellings. Over the last 2 years, Council has contributed to an increased supply of affordable housing by encouraging diverse and affordable housing through the approval of more than 130 DAs involving secondary dwelling (granny flats) development controls, in addition to established dual occupancy controls.

In recognising the housing crisis, Council has worked collectively through the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation (NRJO) and Local Government NSW, to be an advocate for action on new social housing supply and affordability policies.

Over the last 2 years, Council has contributed to an increased supply of affordable housing by encouraging diverse and affordable housing through the approval of more than 130 DAs involving secondary dwelling (granny flats) development controls, in addition to established dual occupancy controls.

Attached dual occupancy dwellings are also possible in many rural areas, in addition to established urban areas.

More information can be found at tweed.nsw.gov.au/granny-flats-secondary dwellings

Additional dual occupancy information can also be found at tweed.nsw.gov.au/dual-occupancy

While Council provides a supportive approach to people affected by the housing crisis, it also has an important statutory responsibility to ensure that any land uses or building works provide a safe and secure housing.

Council recently resolved at its 7 July 2022 meeting to reinforce its role in undertaking compliance action on unauthorised dwellings.

General Manager Troy Green said Council had rescinded the resolution at Item 21.1 of the 2 June 2022 Confidential Council Meeting. The resolution sought to extend an initial moratorium from its 4 November 2021 meeting on taking compliance action on unauthorised dwellings up until 30 September 2022.

“After attending a workshop and gaining additional advice from staff, Councillors acknowledged there may be significant risks for Council to extend the earlier moratorium,” Mr Green said.

“In response to the potential risk and liability identified, it was agreed that a late report be submitted to the Extraordinary Council Meeting of 7 July 2022, seeking to rescind Council’s resolution from the 2 June 2022 meeting.

“Council also resolved that any new compliance matters would be subject to the current requirements of Council’s adopted Compliance Policy.”

Unauthorised building works carried out without required formal approval and certification can pose significant risk to life and property.

In other scenarios, unauthorised building works could also be poorly located on sites which are flood prone, bushfire prone, contaminated or landslip areas and thereby present similar life-threatening, public health and environmental hazards.

Council encourages people to undertake their land use activities with proper consent and approvals to avoid causing a nuisance or acting in breach of legislation.

Council has a compliance policy which guides the approach and response to a range of compliance issues.

However we also rely on the community to report unauthorised work and provide evidence to assist Council in taking action.

Compliance officers use their discretion when dealing with such matters, taking into account the evidence, cost to the community of any action, details of the case, public policy and legal precedent.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY URGED TO GET BOOSTER

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PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY URGED TO GET BOOSTER
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PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY URGED TO GET BOOSTER

With a new wave of COVID-19 cases continuing to increase across the state, people with disability are encouraged to get the latest COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.
Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones said people with disability can be more vulnerable to the harmful effects of COVID-19.
“Protecting people with disability is vital as they can be at greater risk of developing serious illness if they become infected,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.
“Vaccination is readily available at GPs and pharmacies and we are urging everyone to book in without delay.”
COVID-19 booster doses are recommended for anyone 16 years and older who had their last dose of a primary course at least three months ago.
The COVID-19 vaccine can be taken at the same time as the influenza vaccine, which people with disability are also being urged to take.
While the free flu vaccination program in NSW ends on 17 July 2022, those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza remain eligible for a FREE flu vaccine beyond this date, under the National Immunisation program. This includes:
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age
• Children from six months to under five years of age
• People with serious health conditions (including severe asthma, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease)
• Pregnant women
• People aged 65 and over.
The NSW Government is also providing up to 7.9 million rapid antigen tests (RATs) to people with disability and other vulnerable community members with the program recently expanded to 31 October 2022.
To find your nearest vaccination clinic, visit nsw.gov.au.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Royal Australian College of GPs COVID-19 antiviral treatment

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Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the expansion of COVID-19 antiviral treatment access.

It follows federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler announcing that eligibility for lifesaving COVID-19 antiviral treatments will be widened. From today, access will be expanded under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to the following patients who test positive to COVID-19:

  • all those aged over 70
  • people aged over 50 with two or more risk factors for severe disease
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged over 30 with two or more risk factors for severe disease
  • immunocompromised people over 18 may also be eligible.

RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett welcomed the expansion.

“This is a sound and timely decision that will make a real difference for many patients across Australia,” he said.

“In communities everywhere, we have high rates of community transmission of COVID-19, and we know that some patients are particularly vulnerable to severe effects. By expanding access to the antivirals, we can help keep people out of hospital, relieve pressure on the entire health system and save lives.”

Dr Willett said that once again GPs and general practice teams will be front and centre.

“General practice is the backbone of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and we play an essential role getting people timely access to these potentially lifesaving antivirals,” he said.

“GPs are the key to safely prescribing these treatments. We have a strong and, in many cases, long-standing connection with our patients and understand their life circumstances including existing health conditions or other factors such as plans to become pregnant. We also have a comprehensive understanding of how these antivirals interact with other drugs and established systems such as telehealth, so GPs can speak with COVID-19-positive patients safely and prescribe the right antiviral without delay.”

The RACGP Vice President said that that more must be done to fight complacency and contain the harm caused by COVID-19.

“Expanding eligibility is vital; however, we must also enhance community awareness around antivirals and ensure that those patient groups most vulnerable to severe effects from the virus access these drugs. They can save your life if taken early enough,” he said.

“People who believe they are eligible for an antiviral should make an appointment with their GP now to plan how they can receive the drugs if they test positive. Because the drugs are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, a GP will not be able to prescribe an antiviral until the patient actually has COVID-19. So, for those eligible – as soon as you get a positive rapid antigen test or a positive PCR test, call your GP and, if you can’t talk to them, leave a phone message to say you have tested positive and you need a prescription.

“The reason this is so important is that with these treatments we must act quickly. The antivirals have to be given within five days, and they become less effective as you get closer to day five. So, getting that message out there is essential, and I encourage everyone to have conversations with people in their life about these treatments.”

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