BENDIGO residents have been urged to respond sensibly after the state government warned of likely extreme measures to combat coronavirus spread.
The government's newly released pandemic plan warned schools and workplaces may close, and large events be cancelled, as the virus spreads.
Healthcare professionals must also prepare for the possibility of a significant and long-term increase in demand for healthcare services, the plan said.
Bendigo Community Health Service director of Primary Health Care Services Graem Kelly urged the people to respond sensibly.
Mr Kelly said the health service was running tests on suspected cases, but it was too early to say whether these were confirmed cases.
He said BCHS expected to continue running tests as the expected spread of the virus took place.
Mr Kelly said anyone who had been overseas within 14 days showing signs or symptoms of a cold or flu should self-isolate and contact the coronavirus hotline.
He said a pandemic could put Bendigo's health system under "fairly significant pressure".
Health professionals have already warned of an ongoing shortage of general practitioners in the city.
Victoria's pandemic plan warned that at its peak coronavirus could cause significant disruptions to society and challenges to social cohesion.
The coronavirus's peak may coincide with seasonal flu, meaning effects could be felt simultaneously, the plan said.
The plan details four stages of response to the coronavirus: initial containment - the state's current phase, targeted action to minimise transmission - including social distancing measures, peak action, and recovery.
Social distancing measures could have wide-ranging effects on business, the economy and public sentiment, the plan said
Events, travel, tourism, logistics, supply chain and higher education would likely bear the brunt of the economic and social effects.
VicEmergency's State Control Centre has been activated to oversee and coordinate the state's response to the spread of coronavirus.
The federal government has announced it will set up up to 100 private practice respiratory clinics around Australia, equipped to provide dedicated services to people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
Mr Kelly urged people to put the coronavirus outbreak in perspective, pointing out that the seasonal flu killed people each year too.
"This is a pandemic and has a lot of the hallmarks similar to that," Mr Kelly said.
"Yes it has a different demographic profile in terms of health outcomes, slightly higher than the norm. But people are to respond in a sensible, level-headed manner, ensure they understand good and hygiene.
"Keep personal contact to a minimum, listen to directions as state ... and federal government give them and the situation will remain, the best as it can be, controlled."
For information about the coronavirus contact 1800 675 398.
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