Wimmera Health Care Group can confirm that a clinical specialist who attended local residential aged care facilities this week has tested positive to COVID-19.
Grampians Public Health Unit became aware of this overnight and moved swiftly to work with WHCG to investigate and take measures to identify and prevent spread of the virus among residents, staff and the community. These measures include testing of staff and residents who were in contact with the specialist.
Grampians PHU’s Dr Rob Grenfell said residents identified as a close contact would also need to remain in their area of the care facility for a period of seven days from today (Dec 22), to limit further spread of the virus.
"We understand how disappointing this news will be for the residents and families who may have had plans to celebrate Christmas together,” Dr Grenfell said.
“It has been such a difficult two years and we all want the pandemic to be over but unfortunately we have a way to go,” he said.
“While the Omicron variant has not yet been identified in the Grampians region, we need to behave as though it may be circulating.
“Unlike Delta, it is more contagious and is not contained as effectively with two doses of vaccine.”
Dr Grenfell said it was important that we protected each other.
“We need to be thoughtful of those around us. We need to be vigilant and get tested if we have symptoms and while more than ninety-five percent of the region has been double vaccinated, the population now needs to step forward for their booster dose.”
A booster dose of vaccination is required for optimum protection against the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and the booster dose can be given five months from the date of the second dose.
Families and friends are urged to discuss and implement COVIDsafe strategies for Christmas celebrations, so any potential spread is slowed down.
COVIDsafe strategies include:
- Gathering outside in the shade, rather than indoors
- Keep a note of who you have seen and where you have been – use QR codes wherever possible
- Use of masks indoors - and outdoors if you are near others
- Physical distancing of 1.5 metres
- Hand hygiene
- Using Rapid Antigen Testing prior to attending events
The use of over-the-counter Rapid Antigen Testing prior to arrival at a Christmas gathering is strongly recommended for all people.
The RAT kits can be purchased at most local pharmacies and some supermarkets. While they are not always as accurate as a Polymerase Chain Reaction test, which you would receive at a testing clinic, they are another important safeguard aimed at protecting those most vulnerable.