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Fever/flu clinic for Weipa

7 April 2020

A special clinic for people presenting with flu-like and other respiratory conditions at Weipa Integrated Health Service has screened 93 people and tested 75.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Tony Brown said the clinic was being operated as a combination fever and flu assessment clinic since being established at the end of March.

“People assessed as being in high-risk groups with symptoms can be tested for influenza and people can also be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) IF they meet the criteria for testing,’’ he said.

Dr Brown said the clinic was located on the western side of the hospital, with parking available in the hospital’s bauxite carpark after taking the first turn right inside the gates of the facility.

“The clinic is operating from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday, but we are asking people to phone ahead first to our triage nurse on 4082 3678 so they can be assessed over the phone and advised if they do actually need to access the clinic.

“If they are advised to come to the hospital, they should remain in their car once parked and call the triage nurse again to advise they have arrived.

“They can then follow the signage to the clinic where they should first put on a mask and wash their hands before ringing the clinic doorbell. The triage nurse will then come and collect you.

“If you are unable to contact the hospital by phone, you can still come to the clinic during the operating hours or attend the emergency department if outside of clinic hours.’’

Dr Brown said 230 COVID-19 tests so far had been undertaken across the entire Torres and Cape health service on people meeting the testing criteria, with all results being negative.

“As yet, we have had no cases of COVID-19 within our health service region,’’ he said.

“If we do record any cases, patients will be cared for either in their homes under quarantine or transferred to hospital based on their condition.

“Our staff are being supported with personal protective equipment and training, as well as regular check-ups to manage health and wellbeing.

“At Weipa, due to the volume of people presenting with flu-like and other respiratory symptoms, we decided it was more effective and efficient to set up a separate area to manage them and reduce the pressure on the emergency department.

“So far, we have not had the need to establish similar special clinics at our other hospitals at Cooktown, Bamaga and Thursday Island – but we have plans to do so if required.

“We also have plans to establish separate areas within primary health care centres if needed for patients that might present with respiratory-related conditions.’’

Dr Brown said a person was eligible for testing for COVID-19 if they had a fever (or history of fever) or acute respiratory symptoms, and, in the last 14 days:

  • they were a close contact or a household contact of a confirmed case;
  • they had been overseas, including on a cruise.
    Testing also is possible for people who have a fever (or history of fever) or acute respiratory symptoms, AND:
  • work in vulnerable settings such as healthcare, aged or residential care, military, correction facilities, detention centres and boarding schools;
  • live in an area where an outbreak has occurred;
  • live in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

“You are at higher risk of infection if you have had face-to-face contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes or have shared an enclosed space with them for more than two hours,’’ Dr Brown said.

He said Cape York, Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area residents could do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by practising good hygiene,

“Washing your hands is the gold standard of health advice as far as coronavirus goes,’’ he said.

“Washing your hands properly and often means that you can help prevent viruses from entering your body.

“All Queenslanders also are being asked to practice social distancing, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others where possible and not gather in groups greater than two people.

“Please also stay at home as much as possible, unless absolutely necessary, and definitely stay at home if you are unwell.’’

Dr Brown said if anyone had been overseas in the past 14 days and had a fever or respiratory symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately.

“Ensure you call ahead to your GP to let them know you’re coming, so they can prepare and provide you with instructions,’’ he said.

Last updated: 9 April 2020