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Brunswick West returns to lockdown

Victoria now has more local transmission of coronavirus, than we had in March/April, when most cases were in travellers or their household contacts.

If your postcode is 3055, you probably know by now that you’ve been asked to stay at home from midnight tonight (Wednesday 1st July). All the restrictions on movement are detailed here.

I won't be surprised if we’re all back in lockdown soon.

The Chief Health Officer hopes to control this outbreak by more intensive testing and isolating people with positive results. Health department doorknockers will start in Brunswick West tomorrow, offering tests door to door. Testing is safe and if you don’t fancy the discomfort of a nose swab, there is a saliva test, which is a little less accurate at detecting the virus. It’s a good option for kids.

A testing site will be set up at Gillon Oval which sits between Hope Street and Victoria St. Ironically this is just outside the postcode boundary, but I’m sure you’re allowed to go there. It should open the afternoon of the 1st of July. 

Please get a test if you live in Brunswick West, symptoms or not. If you have a cough, fever, or other symptoms, get a test ASAP. Gillon Oval sounds like the best option. If you feel very unwell go to the clinic at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Today we called six GP clinics in 3055 and only one was offering onsite coronavirus testing - the Moreland West Medical Centre, at 223 Melville Rd Brunswick West. Call them first on 9383 2493 and there will be a fee. Call the Coronavirus hotline 1800 675 398 if you have questions. Information in other languages here.

I’ve been asked several times, why Brunswick West? I spoke with the Health Minister’s staff today and it’s simply because people infected by the current outbreak live there. There is no venue or workplace in 3055 currently linked to the outbreak.

If you live outside 3055, you can get tested at any of these sites and some GPs (ring in advance) if you have symptoms. Kids under five won’t be tested at a drive-in site. The Children’s Hospital has a site and the walk-in clinics can test kids.

Contact me if you can update me on the rapidly changing situation in Brunswick West. The police will be more visible in Brunswick West, hopefully more for guidance and warnings rather than anything more heavy-handed, but let me know if there are problems.

With so many cases diagnosed in the last few days, I’m afraid to say that more people will soon be admitted to hospital. So hospitals are again faced with the challenge of preventing transmission to staff and other patients. Health workers are still getting infected, even though Victorian hospitals are now well-supplied with masks and gloves.

Infection control is obviously harder than a lot of people think. And much of the current outbreak is because coronavirus spread from contract staff managing the quarantine of returned travellers.

Now would be a great time for the Health Minister to redouble efforts to protect health workers from infection. I see two priorities. First we need to set a state goal that no health worker should die from this infection. This may mean re-evaluating how the virus is spread, and whether clinical staff need better protective equipment to prevent airborne transmission.

Secondly, as more masks, gloves and gowns go into hospital bins, we have a growing and expensive medical waste problem. I recently heard that staff caring for one patient used 70 disposable gowns in one day. Reusable respirator masks exist and some hospitals have bought them. A couple of weeks ago I spoke in parliament on the need for more research and development of reusable protective equipment here in Australia. If it can be done, it will save money, reduce waste and ensure supply.

I really want this to be over as soon as possible, but it looks like being a long hard slog. It’s disheartening for all of us, wherever we live, to realise that getting out of this will be harder than we thought. And it must be very demoralising to live in Brunswick West right now. Please get in touch if there’s anything more you think my office or the state government could be doing.

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Dr Tim Read
Greens MP for Brunswick
1 July 2020



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