Southwest doctor warns against re-opening bush before city

A RURAL Queensland doctor has cautioned against reopening coronavirus-free areas of the state, saying all it would take would be one asymptomatic case of the virus to ignite a peak of cases in the west.

Dr Ben Brimblecombe of St George Medical Centre said while he couldn’t make a total call on whether the Balonne Shire and the surrounding southwest could re-open before metropolitan areas, he said the movement of residents through the state meant it was a risk.

“It’s a hard call because I don’t have all the information, I don’t want to say we can open sooner than anyone else because I don’t have the full picture,” he said.

“We’re less than two weeks after Easter, and I know there has been some movement of people in that time, so if it (reopening) was to happen, it would still be too early now.”

Dr Brimblecombe said he would continue to advise residents to head the government’s advice, or face the possibility of a second wave of infections like Singapore has seen.

“The danger of it is, it might seem that we have no cases, but if there is just one undetected or asymptomatic case in the region and restrictions are lifted, if that person is out in the community they can spread it,” he said.

“They say every person with the virus infects three people, so if that happens, especially out here, it can quickly escalate and get onto that exponential growth rate.

“That’s what we’ve been seeing in Singapore, and it is a risk in Australia.”

As the weather begins to cool, Dr Brimblecombe had some advice for extra precautions to take against the coronavirus, as well as the flu.

“If people haven’t already, the flu shot is strongly recommended for everyone that can have it,” he said.

“It’s the best chance we have to protect against diseases that we can prevent.

“There is also a pneumonia vaccine for eligible patients. Other than that, people should keep social distancing to avoid spread of viral infections.”

In general, Dr Brimblecombe said he had been pleased by the way the community had adapted to the new way of life enforced by governments to curb the spread of the virus.

“Most people in the community have been doing an admirable job, people are taking it on board and businesses in town are taking it seriously,” he said.

“We have heard of the occasional person doing the wrong thing, but that is the minority.”

Dr Brimblecombe has also warned people against buying into coronavirus conspiracy theories, labelling them as dangerous.

“To our medical knowledge, the virus came from a wet market in Wuhan, China, probably from someone eating a bat or a similar exotic animal,” he said.

“And as far we know, that is the source. It’s certainly not linked to anything else.”


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