Revealed: Real reason border is staying shut
"IF you want the borders to reopen, then get tested for coronavirus."
That's the blunt message from Dr Roger Halliwell, the Gold Coast Primary Health Network's board chairman, who said Queensland's chief health officer won't recommend opening the borders until 1000 Gold Coasters are tested for COVID-19 every day.
Currently about 400 people with respiratory symptoms present for testing.
"There's a lot of pressure on the Government to open the borders, but until everyone with respiratory symptoms is tested and levels hit 1000 a day, they are not going to open the borders," he said.
"The people who don't want to get swabbed or don't want their children to get swabbed, they are the people delaying a decision about reopening the border.
"We all want the borders to open but we must continue to social distance, practise good hygiene, stay at home if we're sick and, most importantly, get tested."
Dr Halliwell said extra testing was needed to ensure community transmission of the virus was detected early and contact tracing could start immediately.
Yesterday, the network sent out a flyer to 146,000 Gold Coast households and to GP practices and pharmacies stressing the importance of COVID-19 testing, testing locations and why people should keep visiting their GP.
Dr Sonu Haikewal, who runs a respiratory clinic in Upper Coomera, said her clinic was only doing one-third of the testing it should be. She feared Gold Coasters had become complacent.
"We on the frontline are nervous, particularly as people who arrive back from NSW and Victoria return here. That is what I fear. Just recently a lady came home from NSW after three months and said no one asked her any questions as she crossed the border but she took it upon her self to get a test and quarantine.
"People are slipping through the net and the best policing system is educating the public about the important of testing and stay at home if they're sick. We need to keep our hands on the wheel and unless we test we can't be sure that we are safe."
Dr Vicki Slinko, from the Gold Coast Public Health Unit, said working men aged between to 20 to 65 were under-represented in testing figures, as were First Nations peoples and children. Working-age women were the best at getting tested.
"Women tend to have better health-seeking behaviours in general and generally speaking men tend to ignore their health. It also stood out that less children are being tested," she said.
"Yes a child might just have a common cold but you don't know that until they've been tested for coronavirus. This winter season, it is very important that you do get your child tested. Little people are very important too.
"It's not the most pleasant test in the world, but it's not having a blood test, just rubbing a little swab around the back of your throat and nose."
Dr Halliwell said a global pandemic was not the time to become complacent because the coronavirus mimicked sinusitis, conjunctivitis, a chest infection and many other illnesses.
"This is not the time to give your child some panadol for the pain and sending them to school in the hope you don't get a call from the school office asking you to pick them up. Things are different this year," he said.
"If we get a second wave and it becomes significant then the shutdown we just experienced will be a walk in the park compared to the next shutdown that could last for months and months. I know people are hurting, businesses are losing money, but I fear if we slip the effects of a long-term shutdown will be far worse."
Originally published as Revealed: Real reason border is staying shut