Kangaroo Island community needs to unite to stop non-essential travel and save lives from COVID-19 coronavirus

Local doctors who will be dealing with the health emergency at the Kangaroo Island Hospital have urged all tourism activity to stop and for locals to stay at home.
Local doctors who will be dealing with the health emergency at the Kangaroo Island Hospital have urged all tourism activity to stop and for locals to stay at home.

Deputy Premier, Attorney General and Kangaroo Island resident Vickie Chapman says the Island needs to unite if its wants police to stop non-essential and tourism travel.

Islanders are increasing calling for greater travel restrictions onto the Island to ensure the Island's limited resources are conserved for locals when the coronavirus hits.

There is concern that campgrounds and attractions such as Seal Bay remain open and that tourists are apparently still coming to the Island.

Local doctors who will be dealing with the health emergency at the Kangaroo Island Hospital have urged all tourism activity to stop and for locals to stay at home.

State Member Leon Bignell has written to the Premier letting him know that the Kangaroo Island community would like the Island to be shut down because of the coronavirus.

Only freight, essential personnel and returning islanders should be allowed on the Island and returning islanders should self isolate for 14 days in case they've picked up the virus while on the mainland, he said.

The Deputy Premier said it would up to SA Police to restrict travel and while the State Government was looking at ways of limiting intrastate travel, the issue was complex.

The bushfire recovery for example on Kangaroo Island would be impacted on by travel restrictions, but if the Island wanted to restrict travel that would be something the State Government would consider, Ms Chapman said.

Regarding why campgrounds and attractions were still open, she said the State Government was concerned about the psychological impact on not allowing people to get outdoors.

Deputy mayor Bob Teasdale is calling for all tourism and non-essential visitation to be ceased but is frustrated there were still some on the Island, including on council, calling for visitation to continue.

He said it was imperative that the State Government acted immediately to control travel.

"I fully support the call to act now to limit travel and I don't want to have regrets that we did not do enough when people start falling ill and we can't get them off the Island," clr Teasdale said.

He said there had been some debate by councillors as to whether the council campgrounds should be closed, with some councillors arguing they should stay open for locals to use.

But clr Teasdale said he did not accept this arguments and council staff had been directed to report back with data as to whether it was locals or visitors occupying campgrounds.

Kangaroo Island Tourism Food Wine and Beverage Association board has now formally agreed to discourage visitation.

Chairman Pierre Gregor said staff and members had been directed to discourage visitation and the following statement was on the website.

"Due to COVID-19 and based on the Australian Government's announcement that all non-essential travel should be cancelled, The Kangaroo Island Tourism Food Wine and Beverage Association strongly discourages visitors to Kangaroo Island at this time," chairman Pierre Gregor said.

"This decision has not been made lightly and is temporary. We will be watching the advice from the government closely in the coming weeks and adjusting our message as necessary.

"Kangaroo Island would like to stress what is most important right now is people's health and safety and we strongly encourage that everyone follows the government advice to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

"We look forward to welcoming you to our fabulous island when it is safe to do so and when we are in the best position to deliver you a fantastic holiday experience."

Rural doctors issue stark warning

If rural and remote Australians think their town is too isolated to be impacted by COVID-19, they should think again, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) warned today.

"News travels fast in the bush - and so will coronavirus unless more rural Australians ensure they are doing the right thing and self-isolating" Dr Adam Coltzau, Clinical Lead for RDAA and ACRRM's COVID-19 Rural and Remote Response, said.

"Cases of coronavirus have already been confirmed in numerous rural communities.

"But some rural Australians are still walking around in La-La Land, thinking COVID-19 is only a big city issue.

"This couldn't be further from the truth. The hard fact is that COVID-19 infections will increase in rural and remote Australia.

"As a rural or remote Australian, you must now do the right thing to reduce the spread of the virus and reduce your risk of getting it.

"Whenever possible, you and your immediate family members should self-isolate at home - and work from home where that is possible.

"It is also critical that those from the cities or other regions - including your distant family members - refrain from coming to your community at this time, as this will be a sure-fire way for the virus to spread.

"It will also put incredible pressure on our local health services and hospitals if they fall ill with COVID-19 while in your community, and we can't guarantee we'll be able to provide the care they may need.

"This is not a time to panic, but it is a time for rural Australians to help protect themselves and their community by acting for the common good. That is best achieved by the following:

  • Ensure you and your family are self-isolating at home, and working from home if you can.
  • Metres matter - stay 1.5 to 2 metres away from other people, and don't assume that because you have known someone for 40 years they won't be carrying the virus - they may not even know it yet!
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water (ideally) or antiseptic handwash - for at least 20-30 seconds each time. Practise singing Happy Birthday twice while you are washing them, and you will have spent about the right amount of time doing so.
  • Look after yourself and your family - ensure you are practising good hygiene when it comes to food preparation; getting good quality sleep; eating fresh and healthy food; drinking lots of water; minimising your intake of processed foods; minimising your consumption of alcohol; stopping or cutting down on smoking; and exercising regularly. Binge eating and watching Netflix on the couch until sunrise is not the answer!
  • Use your credit card instead of cash when shopping, and visit shops only when essential.
  • Don't shake hands, hug or kiss anyone except your partner and kids...and even then, assume they may have the virus but aren't yet showing symptoms.
  • Reduce your travel as much as possible, both within your own community and most definitely to other communities or farms.
  • Go by the golden rule, 'Keep your germs to yourself' - even if you are feeling well - as you may not yet know that you have COVID-19.
  • Use Skype or FaceTime - or the good old-fashioned phone - to catch up with your friends and extended family from the safety of your own home - COVID-19 can't travel down phone lines!
  • Regularly disinfect high touch surfaces like your phone, tables, kitchen benches, doorknobs, taps and even the steering wheel on your car or ute.

"Rural doctors and other health professionals are extremely concerned about the ability of local rural hospitals and health services to meet a huge increase in COVID-19 patients, should the virus spread in rural and remote communities.

"We urge all rural and remote Australians to take this situation very seriously, and do as much as you can to avoid getting and spreading this virus."

Find more information on how to protect yourself, your family and community from COVID-19 at www.health.gov.au