People flouting social distancing rules in the local area.
People flouting social distancing rules in the local area.

Northern NSW health boss backs return to school

HESITANT about sending your children back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones said the return of students to school in a staged approach posed a 'very low risk' for public health.

He said he backed the measure as long as the health system was positioned to deal with a slight increase of cases, which it is.

"We can't just look at this as a health issue," Mr Jones said.

"This is an economic issue too. Experts are saying returning people are back to school is safe, as long as the health system can respond and as long as we do it in a phased response."

It has been 19 days since the health district has seen a new confirmed case, and there were 11 active cases in the district as of Monday.

So, is the pandemic over?

"Definitely not," Mr Jones said.

"Many would argue we are in the early phases, because we've been able to implement border controls, social distancing and good hygiene we've seen a significant flattening of the curve.

"As restrictions are relaxed and we get people commuting more, mixing more, we see more shops open, we will get more cases."

When it comes to relaxing restrictions, and seeing an increase in cases, the health district's way of determining an acceptable increase is based on resources.

"Whenever the infection rate continues to grow, as long as it's within the resource base of the health system, we can handle it," Mr Jones said.

"We are fortunate in that the vast majority of cases do not require hospitalisation."

One of 11 local patients are in hospital at present.

"They are slowly and surely improving," he said.

There were a number of people flouting restrictions on the weekend, having picnics and visiting the skate park in the local area.

Mr Jones said behaviour like this could result in problems for everyone.

"I've heard a number of stories where people haven't heeded advice," Mr Jones said.

"It risks all the great work people have done to prevent the spread."



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