Loddon Shire Mayoral Column 23 March 2020
Published on 23 March 2020
Coronavirus and our community
As the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, Loddon Shire is constantly reviewing operations to protect the safety of staff, councillors, contractors, volunteers and the community.
Council will be as proactive it can be, and our response to COVID-19 may result in the delay of projects and changes in service levels. We ask for understanding from the community as we work to provide services as best we can.
Now is the time to try to look after ourselves and each other. The effects of the cancellation of events and social distancing will be far-reaching. We can still support local businesses by shopping locally, purchasing locally using online methods and generally showing support to small businesses who will be feeling the pinch.
We also need to acknowledge the many changes we are adjusting to and that self-isolation will result in increased anxiety and distress in many people. Some things we can do to help include finding a healthy balance in relation to large volumes of media, try to ensure that you are following accurate sources of information such as government websites and the World Health Organisation.
Where possible, try to maintain close to a normal routine, especially where children are concerned. Acknowledge feelings of distress and seek professional support if required. You may wish to consider what you have to do to minimise your own risk, particularly if you live with, or care for people who may be in the vulnerable category, including the over 65s, the very young or those with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems.
I know there are health messages everywhere right now, but we cannot be reminded enough that everyone can help reduce the risk of contracting the virus by practising good hygiene. This means washing your hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60% alcohol. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
Observing social distancing is a good way to slow the spread of infection, trying to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from other people, open windows and adjust air conditioning if possible. The more distance between people, the harder it is for the virus to spread. Avoid shaking hands or high-fives; perhaps an elbow–bump or some non-contact form of acknowledgement is enough.
Another way to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 is to reduce unnecessary face-to-face contact. For this reason, Council’s offices have been closed to the public, but other options for staying in touch are in place, and detailed further on in this message.
If you are sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick, please do not go into public places. Seek medical attention, but call ahead first. If unsure, call the Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080. This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Council is responding to this evolving situation and is taking advice from State and Federal Government departments. Meanwhile you can follow any Council updates on our Facebook page and website www.loddon.vic.gov.au and for information, updates and advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) refer to https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.
The following Council services have been changed until further notice:
- Community care services are being reviewed to determine how they can still deliver services while protecting the vulnerable residents in their care as well as their staff. Some activities such as social support groups and centre-based meals will be suspended for now, while others will be modified in response to changing requirements. Clients will be contacted for individual changes and staff will undertake specific training to meet the evolving situation.
- The Visitor Information Centre at Wedderburn has been closed. Phone and email enquiries will be responded to – on 03 5494 3489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In line with advice from the Victorian Government and Chief Health Officer, services will continue to operate for aged and disability care, immunisation, early years services (kindergartens will remain open upon advice from Department Education and Training), maternal and child health services, and emergency management.
Again, we will aim to keep information about Council services up to date on our website, and we will be contactable by phone or email if you have any questions.
I am confident that our community will work together and help each other out during this time, please be kind and support those around us where possible.