Now is the time to act

Effective hand hygiene is crucially important in preventing infections.
Effective hand hygiene is crucially important in preventing infections.

IN classic cases of "shoot the messenger" many media outlets have been jumped on for being "alarmist", "sensationalist" and "panicking people".

This has been particularly rampant on social media pages.

The Gippsland Times will not apologise for informing people as to the latest developments surrounding COVID-19.

Some people have been sleepwalking into this pandemic thinking they have some kind of special immunity that the rest of the world doesn't.

But the developments at the weekend will have shocked many out of their complacency.

Worryingly, people have been gathering in supermarkets concentrating on hoarding, rather than taking sensible precautions like washing and sanitising hands and limiting social contact.

In a lockdown situation, people will still be able to access food and medication.

It is only if you are ill, or in contact with someone who is ill, that you would need to isolate for a couple of weeks - so stop panic buying.

You're just hurting those more vulnerable in our community.

We are urging Gippslanders to take as many precautions as they can against COVID-19 now.

Premier Daniel Andrews made it clear Monday morning that if people continue to act selfishly, there will be significant numbers of deaths.

By the time we see multiple cases in Gippsland, it will already be too late to take the actions needed, because the virus is sneaky - it has an incubation period of up to two weeks, but that could be longer.

It can be spread by people who exhibit no visible symptoms. This means numerous people will be infected without even knowing it, passing it on to others if they are not careful now.

The proportion of people in the community who are particularly vulnerable to becoming severely ill - people who are immune suppressed, or have diabetes, asthma or heart disease - may be greater than you assume.

We believe the message also needs to get out to younger people, some who appear to think they are bullet-proof.

Yes, people over 70 are more at risk - but people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 60s have also been admitted to critical care, as has been demonstrated overseas.

There have also been deaths in younger age groups, and they haven't all had pre-exisiting medical conditions.

China acted swiftly and decisively.

Italy acted too slowly, and is now facing a death toll in the thousands.

We need to do everything we can do at a personal level to slow the spread of COVID-19 - right now.

Common symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing
  • A sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing, which may develop into pneumonia

See a doctor immediately if you have these symptoms and have travelled overseas in the past 14 days or have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Before your appointment, call ahead and advise of your symptoms and recent travel so necessary precautions can be taken.

For information on COVID-19, phone the Coronavirus Helpline or visit www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus.

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