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TOILET PAPER STAMPEDE: Empty shelves where toilet paper was. TOILET PAPER STAMPEDE: Empty shelves where toilet paper was. Featured
11 March 2020 Posted by 

WESTERN SYDNEY CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Cluster hits the north-west
DALLAS SHERRINGHAM
A CLUSTER of suburbs in Sydney’s north west has become the epicentre of Australia’s coronavirus COID-19 outbreak in the past week.

The coronavirus hot spot centres on the north-west suburbs of Epping and Eastwood.
 
The good news is that businesses in Western Sydney have so far avoided the outbreak, but the bad news is the coronavirus is striking students and parents at the region’s high schools.

Epping Boys High School closed after a diagnosis of COVID-19 in a 16-year-old student, bringing to nine the total number of confirmed cases within a six-kilometre square distance.
 
NSW Health revealed the mother of the high school student worked at nearby Ryde Hospital, where a doctor was earlier diagnosed with COVID-19.
 
Less than two kilometres away from the high school, a lecturer at Macquarie University was placed in isolation after testing positive.
 
Meanwhile, a second healthcare worker at the aged care facility Dorothy Henderson Lodge, which is next to the university campus’ south-west perimeter, has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
 
A spokesperson for NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said coronavirus protocols were in place across the region.
 
“COVID-19 is no different to any other infectious disease people may present with at an ED such as measles, as long as people are phoning ahead so they can be isolated, there is little risk to staff or patients.”
 
Temporary school closures are likely to become the norm across Western Sydney, as the nation tries to batten down the hatches to fend off the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
 
TOILET PAPER PHENOMENON
 
Toilet paper shelves are emptying across the region and according to Western Sydney Local Health District’s acting executive director of mental health Professor Bill Brakoulias, there is an evolutionary reason for it.
 
Prof Brakoulias said behaviors we were seeing in response to COVID-19 were categorised as ‘hoarding’.
 
“Hoarding behaviors are underpinned by a thought that we might need something in the future,” Prof Brakoulias said.
 
“Just like squirrels that gather acorns for winter, it is in our human nature to select things and keep them in case we need them for future use.
 
“When people get anxious, they have what’s called ‘catastrophic cognitions’ – they think of the worst-case scenario – and one way of controlling this anxiety is to collect things and keep things in order to feel safe.”
 
BOLD RESPONSE NEEDED
 
The state’s peak business organisation, Business NSW, says the State Government has to take a bold approach in June’s State Budget to restore confidence and avoid job losses, as the impact of COVID-19 begins to take hold.
 
Business NSW has formally lodged its Pre-Budget submission with the Government.
 
“With everything the State has confronted — from weak household demand, drought, bushfires and now COVID-19 — we need robust action from the Government to ensure NSW remains the place to do business in Australia,” Business NSW Regional Director Paula Martin said.
 
Measures Business NSW is calling on the Government to introduce in the Budget include:
• Reducing payroll tax to protect employment in the sectors most affected.
• Deferring payroll tax for SMEs to support business cash flow.
• Halting any increases in government-related fees and charges for business, including workers compensation premiums.
• Implementing targeted stimulus for businesses in heavily affected industries such as tourism.
• Establishing measures to better prepare NSW for future economic shocks.
 
“The focus of government should be on limiting the impact of government taxes, fees and charges so communities and their local economies can recover sooner,” Ms Martin said.
 
“Equally, sufficient resources will need to be made available to look after those directly and indirectly affected by recent and ongoing events. This must also include support for businesses which are vital to employment in NSW’s regional communities.
 
“Our submission also points to the need to start planning now for the economic recovery and for strategies to help industries, especially tourism, take advantage of the recovery opportunities,” Ms Martin said.
 
OUTBREAK HITS SPORTS
 
GWS Giants AFL Club has taken swift action in battling the coronavirus outbreak.
 
GWS said there would have no tours of the football department during the next couple of weeks and the playing group and officials would be carefully managed to avoid coming into contact with potential carriers.
 
UNIVERSITY PRECAUTIONS
 
Western Sydney University is taking “necessary precautions” to protect its students and staff.
 
“The health, safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is our priority. Although we are not aware of any cases concerning the Western Sydney University community, the University is taking necessary precautions to protect our community from the threat of this new coronavirus,” a spokesperson said.
 
“We are closely monitoring Australian Government and health authority advice, as there is much more to learn about how it is spread, its severity, and other features.”
 
SAFEWORK OUTLINES LAWS
 
Safework Australia advise the outbreak  is covered by the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.
 
The laws require a person conducting a business or undertaking to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. This includes providing and maintaining a work environment that is without risk to health and safety.
 
To comply with the model WHS laws, businesses must identify hazards at the workplace and the associated risks and do what is reasonably practicable to eliminate those risks, or where this is not reasonably practicable, to minimise those risks.
 
Exposure to COVID-19 is a potential hazard for workers and other people at workplaces. Businesses must have measures in place to protect worker health and safety and manage these risks.
 
Depending on the workplace, an appropriate range of actions may include:
 
• Closely monitoring official Government sources for current information and advice.
• Reviewing and promoting your organisation’s policies and measures for infection control..
• Ensuring workers are aware of the isolation/quarantine periods in accordance with advice from the Australian Government Department of Health.
• This includes information on when staff should not attend work
• Providing clear advice to workers about actions they should take if they become unwell or think they may have the symptoms of coronavirus, in accordance with advice from the Australian Government Department of Health and state or territory health department.
• Eliminating or minimising international work travel, in line with the travel advice on the Australian Government’s Smartraveller website.
• Providing regular updates to workers about the situation and any changes to organisational policies or procedures
• Contingency planning to manage staff absences.
Providing workers with information and links to relevant services should they require support.
Workers also have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of others. Workers should be reminded to always practice good hygiene and other measures to protect themselves and other against infection.
 
This includes:
 
• Washing their hands often, with soap and water, or carrying hand sanitiser and using it as needed.
• Covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing, but not using their hands to do so.
• Seeing a health care professional if they start to feel unwell.
• If unwell, avoiding contact with others (including shaking hands or other touching, such as hugging).
 
If you are planning to travel overseas for work, please closely monitor the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on the Smartraveller website for advice.


editor

Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.