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Premier announces easing of restrictions on cafes, restaurants and pubs by June 1
LEAH ANDERSON-BYRNE
WEB ScreeningCentreweek12 1 pe c6 20200517
OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Call the screening clinic number even if you have the mildest symptoms of COVID-19. Northeast Health Wangaratta also says not to hesitate in getting any other health concerns checked out at the hospital.

PUB bistros, cafes and restaurants will be able to reopen and serve up to 20 patrons at a time under the more easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced impending changes that will be followed by further relaxation with up to 50 patrons allowed on June 22 and up to 100 around mid-July.

He said public bars will not be allowed to reopen at this stage.The welcome changes will be governed by a strict set of rules and continuation of circumstances will be a result of ongoing testing throughout the state.Mr Andrews said yesterday that 92,000 tests were completed last week as part of 233,000 in total.

He said the key to safe steps of easing restrictions is people getting tested.And the results have been in favour of a return to normality sooner with Health Minister Jenny Mikakos reporting that Victoria has the highest rate of testing in the nation with 5102 people per capita.

“It is very pleasing that out of the 233,000 tests, 39 tested positive that are unknown to an outbreak or an overseas traveller,” she said.

“Of these 32 were symptomatic and 39 were asymptomatic.”

The demographics of the 233,000 people tested include 75 per cent aged 15-65, 39 per cent aged 15-44, and 35 per cent aged 45-64.

Some 60 per cent tested have been female.

This also includes 1800 teachers, 39,000 health care workers and 2600 police and corrections staff.

As restrictions ease nationwide and life slowly returns to normal, Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) director partnerships and well ageing David Kidd said the screening clinic will remain testing for, potentially, months.

“Locally, we’ve had no change in numbers since Easter,” Mr Kidd said.

“That’s across our rural city, Mansfield Shire, Benalla Rural City and Moira Shire with all past cases, on all accounts, recovered.

“The local screening clinic is still running and keeping things separate from the hospital; we’ve just gone from a testing blitz in the last few weeks to now contacting all the schools under the advice of the government.

“We’ve been advised that school staff may be asymptomatic so we’re seeing what works best for them to get everyone tested.

“At the end of last week we completed 1071 swabs and 1674 screening calls and despite things relaxing the clinic will continue to do tests for potentially months to come.

“There are still concerns of a second wave; look at anything that has happened internationally, and it’s pretty normal for a pandemic.

“That will potentially come through as people start to move around again due to some people out there with no symptoms but I doubt a second wave will have too much impact.

“An extra spike will be based around clusters that we’re still seeing examples of, such as the Cedar Meats, but it’s unlikely to be widespread.”

Mr Kidd said the hospital is still maintaining preparations for a second wave but are seeing more patients and staff return to the building

“We’ve had no shortage of ambulances turning up; people are still falling over and hurting themselves, and the change in restrictions will bring about things like the flu,” he said.

“As much as we’re retuning to ‘normal’, there has been a lot of stuff happening across the health sector in this crisis that’s sped up change in hospitals.

“Lots of facilities are looking at maintaining some of those changes because there have been some amazing efficiencies like online consultations.

“In saying that, though, some people in community have found that online aspect difficult due to lack of access to smart phones or lack of internet.

“We’ve also found that for some groups we run, the social connectedness is just as worthwhile as the exercise.

“At the moment, while there’s time, everyone is maintaining preparation and there is a shift in what we’re doing in regards to our role in the health system.

“There is a bigger statewide review of how things work now; larger hospitals will take majority of the load and in future we’ll look after people locally as much as we can.”

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