BENDIGO residents have been urged to develop a personal COVID-19 outbreak plan, in case they are forced to get tested and self-isolate.
The warning came from Bendigo Health as it publicised its own outbreak management plan, a response to any future positive COVID-19 cases among staff, patients or aged care residents.
Hyper vigilance was the hallmark of Bendigo Health's response, leaders said.
Bendigo Health chief medical officer Diana Badcock said the outbreak plan was focused on when COVID-19 affected Bendigo, not if.
Dr Badcock urged people to think about their plan in the event of a COVID-19 scare, as individuals and as families.
She said the community needed to have a hyper vigilant COVID-19 plan, in the same way the hospital did.
Dr Badcock said people needed to be ready when, "at the flick of a switch", they had a runny nose, had to get swabbed, and go into lockdown to protect those they cared for.
"At testing, the message that you're left with is go home and isolate. So really you're going home not to just do the social distancing, the hand hygiene. You're not going anywhere," she said.
"People who are reliant on you ... that immediately changes. So as a family, and as a group of people who live together, that needs to be discussed and thought about in advance.
"Because at that moment in time your day has changed, and the people you can interact with will change.
"If someone is needing your support, either to deliver things, or to care for them, you've got to have your plan B ready to enact."
Dr Badcock said while Victoria had flattened the curve, it was looking at an outbreak in various parts of the state.
"This virus ... it mushrooms. We're now at 10 million cases around the world. Five million have recovered, but 500,000 people have died," Dr Badcock said.
So this is an ugly virus. And we have to respond in a hyper vigilant way, whereby we are over-calling anything that we see.Diana Badcock
"This is an ugly virus. And we have to respond in a hyper vigilant way, whereby we are over-calling anything that we see."
Bendigo Health chief executive Peter Faulkner said the plan was focused on two fronts.
He said most significant was Bendigo Health's response to an internal outbreak, among staff, patients or aged care residents. Second was its role in supporting the Department of Health in the event of a community outbreak, he said.
Mr Faulkner said a single diagnosis of a staff member, patients, or aged care resident would trigger the plan.
He said once they had tested positive, the person would be required to isolate, in line with the standard protocols.
Mr Faulkner said Bendigo Health would put in place contact tracing for staff and patients, and notify public health officials.
He said Bendigo Health had experienced many instances of staff being tested, and returning negative results.
Mr Faulkner said it usually meant staff isolated for one or two days, before returning to work. He said many staff had done the same with their children, which the hospital supported.
"We've been very clear on our messaging to staff, saying, 'Don't come to work if you have any symptoms'," he said.
Ms Faulkner said Bendigo Health had no confirmed COVID-19 patients within the hospital.
Visit the Department of Health and Human services website for more information: dhhs.vic.gov.au/staying-safe-covid-19
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