Local health boss appeals to public to be vigilant

New Central Coast Health CEO Scott McLachlan

[Video story attached] Central Coast residents should be vigilant with COVID-19 numbers likely to spike in coming weeks in the region.

That’s the message from Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) CEO, Scott McLachlan, who said this week we were facing an “interesting development” with the new Omicron strain to possibly see a rise in case numbers.

CCLHD Chief Executive interviewed by CCN’s David Abrahams

So far, numbers in the region are averaging 70-80 each day.

“We will see in coming days and weeks how the infection will affect people on the Coast and the people around them,” McLachlan said.

“There have been no hospital admissions so far (since the latest outbreak), which is testament to the vaccination rates in the region.

“People should look for opportunities to get a booster shot – now suggested five months after the second dosefor maximum protection and to prevent serious illness and hospitalisation.

“We know COVID will spread more widely throughout our community in coming weeks but we have a fantastic health system with high-end health services and almost 7,000 staff.”

While masks are no longer mandatory in most public settings, McLachlan said it was still wise to wear them.

“We are still seeing a lot of people wear them in settings such as supermarkets and (retail stores) such as Bunnings, and it makes sense to wear them in close environments,” he said.

“There is a greater transmission rate with Omicron and I urge everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“It is still advisable to stay home unless you absolutely need to go out.”

McLachlan said our hospitals were well placed to cope with an escalating demand on health services into the short and long-term future.

“Many of our staff are fatigued after the last 18 months and looking forward to the Christmas break for a bit of a reprieve,” he said.

But with more people certain to socialise over the Christmas season and COVID symptoms likely to emerge 7-10 days after infection, health services could become very busy once again following the break.

“If you look at the Hunter’s experience, numbers are doubling every day,” McLachlan said,.

The health service is also expecting a surge in general services with a huge population growth predicted in the next 5-10 years as more people move to the regions.

“We have done a lot of work to make sure if patients come in we can treat them,” McLachlan said.

“We are well placed in Emergency Departments and other services with spaces available and staff trained.

“We are well organized and ready for whatever comes.”

McLachlan said rapid antigen tests now available from pharmacies and other outlets on the Coast were a good COVID pre-test.

“They are reasonably reliable and can provide some peace of mind,” he said.

Terry Collins