The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak across the globe has resulted in emergency action from health facilities in the South East. Kincraig Medical Clinic's doctor Jeff Taylor spoke to the Herald about precautions people should be taking at this time.
"I think the important thing is that around town ... influenza is present. The symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 can be similar."
He wants to assure people that although seemingly drastic measures need to be taken to isolate the spread of coronavirus, this does not call for panic. Medical facilities in Naracoorte and the wider region are taking extra precaution.
"(Coronavirus) is very ruthless in the elderly - those 70 and above," Dr Taylor said.
With no effective treatment for the virus available, he said it's important the elderly minimise their exposure to other people. Dr Taylor suggests avoiding gatherings such as Sunday church, and leisurely classes like cooking or exercise. He's urging people to consider not attending nursing homes and retirement villages, and to use appropriate hygiene.
"Mass gatherings should be avoided - parties, weddings - I think people really should be considering alternate arrangements. It hasn't come to the South East yet, but it has the potential to do so," he said.
Naracoorte now has a COVID-19 dedicated clinic.
"We encourage all patients to contact the clinic on 8762 7700 where they will be triaged. Essentially anyone who has returned from overseas within the past 14 days or has been in contact with someone from overseas within the past 14 days that has a fever 36.6 or has a cough or feeling unwell ... need to contact the hospital first to receive an appointment.
Dr Taylor recommends using proper cough etiquette, hand sanitisers and tissues. Although this virus has a more severe affect on the elderly, this does not mean young, healthy people should not take precautions. Someone may not be showing symptoms, but they can be travellers of the virus and pass it on to another person. Everyone is encouraged to get a flu shot this year, which will be available from April.