Northern Rivers Local Health District COVID-19 update
Please attribute to Lynne Weir, Acting Chief Executive Northern NSW Local Health District
Two new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Northern NSW, both close contacts of the man in his 50s reported yesterday.
All three cases are currently being cared for at Lismore Base Hospital, and all are in a stable condition.
To date there have been no additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 among residents of Northern NSW Local Health District.
Northern NSW Local Health District has now been advised of the following close contact locations in the region:
Anyone who attended the above venues at the times listed is a close contact and must get tested and isolate for 14 days since they were there, regardless of the result.
NSW Health sends a text message to people who have checked in at close contact venues with further information. We also make a follow-up call to close contacts to discuss the isolation and testing requirements. If you have not received a text message, please call 1800 943 553.
As this situation evolves, these locations may be updated.
Under the current stay at home orders in place until 12.01am Tuesday 17 August, people in the four local government areas of Byron Shire, Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley must stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse to leave.
They cannot have visitors in their home from outside their household, including family and friends. These rules apply to anyone who has been in these local government areas on or after Saturday 31 July.
If you must leave home, stay within your local area. Do not travel outside your local area if you can avoid it, and limit physical contact with people you do not live with.
Reasonable excuses to leave home are:
• To obtain food or other goods and services
o in your local government area, within 10km of your home if reasonably practicable
o for the personal needs of the household or for other household purposes (including pets)
o for vulnerable people
o only one person per household may leave the home to obtain food or other goods and services each day (you may take a dependent person with you if that person cannot be left at home on their own)
• leave home to go to work if
o you cannot reasonably work from home and
o the business is allowed to be open
• leave home for education if it is not possible to do it at home
• exercise and take outdoor recreation in the local government area you live in or 10km from your home
• go out for medical or caring reasons, including obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination.
More detailed information about the Stay at Home Orders, including a list of businesses that are closed, is available at: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/affected-regions
Hospital visitor restrictions tightened
Visitor restrictions are being tightened at the health facilities within the four LGAs under stay at home orders: Byron Shire, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Ballina.
Visitors are not permitted at facilities within these LGAs, unless they receive an exemption from the health facility.
An example of an exemption would be for compassionate reasons related to a patient receiving end of life care.
Any visitors who receive an exemption will need to comply with the entry and screening requirements, including checking in with QR codes and wearing a mask.
Women accessing birthing services can nominate one support person during her labour, birth and post-delivery.
These changes do not apply to hospitals and health facilities in the LGAs not included in the stay at home order.
For exceptional circumstances we encourage visitors and families to discuss their individual needs with staff. We know these restrictions can be challenging, and we appreciate your understanding during this time.
Don’t delay getting tested
We urge people to come forward for testing at the first sign of any COVID-19 symptoms.
Already in the first 24 hours since this case was identified, we have seen increasing numbers of people presenting to our testing clinics.
There are more than 25 testing clinics across Northern NSW, and you do not need a referral to get a test. COVID-19 testing is free.
All the local testing clinics and their opening hours are listed on the NSW government website at: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others/clinics or, you can also contact your GP.
Housing demand creates planning challenges
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.
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.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY URGED TO GET BOOSTER
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.
Royal Australian College of GPs COVID-19 antiviral treatment
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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