EXCLUSIVE |Tamworth to house COVID-19 test collection and respiratory clinics
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Tamworth will house both a COVID-19 collection clinic and respiratory clinic with sites expected to open next week.
There are seven people in Tamworth Regional Council who have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Liverpool Plains, Glen Innes, Narrabri and Inverell all have 1 to 4 cases identified, but no cases have been reported in Armidale, Gwydir, Uralla, Walcha or Gunnedah.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the contracts had been signed for a GP-led respiratory clinic in Tamworth to help divert patients away from emergency departments and other general practices.
"This will help provide treatment for people who have tested positive and have mild to moderate symptoms," he said.
"We are also going to have more diagnostic facilities as well.
"I am doing my part as everyone else is doing their part to see ourselves through to this."
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the 31 Primary Health Networks around Australia are working with hospital districts to advise the Department of Health on the most appropriate locations for the clinics right across the country.
"The Hunter New England Central Coast PHN has recommended the site at Tamworth as a priority, and the Department has accepted this recommendation, subject to urgent due diligence," they said.
"The Department of Health is working with Aspen Medical, which has significant health emergency management experience in Australia and overseas, to mobilise the clinics as urgently as possible.
"Aspen will soon be visiting Tamworth for a reconnaissance visit, to provide assurance on infection prevention and control arrangements at the clinic and, once assured, to train staff."
The spokesperson said the department is working in "parallel to finalise contract arrangements".
Mr Joyce also confirmed that Douglass Hanly Moir would be opening a dedicated collection clinic in Tamworth, to complement the role of the respiratory clinic.
The doors for the site are expected to open sometime next week.
"That is what I have been fighting for, and that is what we have got," Mr Joyce said. "I did not want to see Tamworth left out."
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The Member for New England also said the pandemic would go down in "the annals of our lives" as one of the significant challenges, and everyone has a role to play to make sure the community gets through the crisis. "It is here, and it has arrived," he said. "Unfortunately it arrived via the Ruby Princess, that boat they let dock and let people off - now that does not mean panic because panic does not help anybody. "It means being cautious. It means following the protocols, but continue to spend your money, continue to work as much as you can, and we will get through this." As of Tuesday at 8pm, an additional 31 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed. This brings the total number of Hunter New England confirmed cases to 103.