Halls Creek doctor tests positive for COVID-19

A Halls Creek health worker has tested positive for Coronavirus, according to the Western Australian Department of Health.

The Halls Creek health worker is one of five new health worker cases in the Kimberley region – three in Broome, one in Halls Creek and one in Kununurra.

NIT understands the Halls Creek health worker was a doctor flown in from interstate to assist WA Country Health Service at Halls Creek Hospital.

It remains unclear whether the doctor was tested upon entry into WA and if he was required to self-isolate for 14 days before entering the Kimberley.

“We don’t know exactly when [the doctor] arrived [yet], he may have arrived before the Kimberley was put in lockdown,” said Shire of Halls Creek President, Malcolm Edwards.

The Shire President said as soon as the doctor felt unwell, he immediately self-isolated.

“I have been told it wasn’t a community transmission.”

Edwards said the doctor has now been moved to Broome and will be moved to Perth in the coming days. A number of Halls Creek Hospital staff are also now in self-isolation.

Since the new case, Edwards said there has been a ramp up in education efforts in the Shire – where 84 percent of the population is Aboriginal.

“The Shire has gone around door to door, giving everyone two bars of soap and a leaflet and telling them [about] social distancing, washing your hands, and symptoms,” Edwards said.

In response to the news, Halls Creek’s Yura Yungi Medical Services Aboriginal Corporation has closed to protect community members and staff.

Yura Yungi released a statement via their Facebook on Wednesday, notifying the public the clinic was now closed and urging residents to stay home and call instead.

“Due to a recent positive Coronavirus case … Doctors, Nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers will now be providing a telephone advice and triaging service,” the statement read.

The medical service has also arranged for medication drop-offs in the interim.

Edwards said Yura Yangi has given over 100 flu shots in the day after the Halls Creek case was announced – including himself.

“Follow what you’ve been told, social distance, wash your hands,” Edwards said.

“Stay home as much as possible … don’t go out.”

The Kimberley Regional Group, made up of the Shires of Halls Creek, Broome, Derby West Kimberley and Wyndham East Kimberley, released a statement Thursday in support of the medical teams at the forefront of COVID-19.

“We recognise and appreciate the service of the medical professionals in our region and the contribution that they continue to make,” said Cr Chris Mitchell, Chair of the Kimberley Regional Group.

“The Shires in the Kimberley remain resolute in our support for our communities.”

“We are focused on the health and resilience of our communities and supporting organisations that are at the coal face,” said Geoff Haerewa, President of the Shire of Derby West Kimberley.

“Like everywhere else in the Kimberley we have a highly vulnerable population that must be protected and we are doing everything we can to be prepared.”

NIT understands people are now being sent through the town of about 1,500, with last night’s Greyhound bus only stopping in Halls Creek to drop off mail and other essentials.

The Kimberley now has 12 cases of COVID-19, with WA’s total at 392.

By Hannah Cross

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