Ballina MP Tamara Smith has urged people to remain calm amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Ballina MP Tamara Smith has urged people to remain calm amid the coronavirus outbreak.

‘Stay calm and observe good hygiene’: Tamara Smith

STATE member for Ballina Tamara Smith has encouraged residents to remain calm amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Some concerns around large events planned for the region, including next month’s Bluesfest Byron Bay, have been raised with Byron Shire News and have been circulating online.

Meanwhile, Southern Cross University closed its Lismore and Gold Coast campuses yesterday after a visiting international staff member tested positive for the virus after returning home.

Ms Smith said her office was receiving advice from Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones that “people need to make a decision as individuals about whether they attend big public events based on their own health”.

“Those with suppressed immunity should reconsider their attendance at any large gathering of people,” Ms Smith said.

“My understanding from the experts is that we as a state and nation are still trying to contain the virus and that means that those people who have come from affected areas overseas and who show symptoms OR those who have come into contact with conformed cases of COVID-19 are who should be tested and monitored.

“It really is a matter for individuals if they are worried more broadly but the advice we are getting is that people who have not come from affected areas or been exposed need to stay calm and observe good hygiene and go about their normal lives.”

Bluesfest Byron Bay organisers have assured patrons the festival will be “low risk” and tickets would be “fully insured” in the case of a cancellation.

Organisers have said the festival is going ahead as planned on April 9 to 13, with extra hand sanitising facilities to be made available.

Ms Smith stressed it was “a matter for individuals” as to whether they attend an event of this scale.

“I am confident that everything that can be done from a public health perspective is being done,” she said.

“At the end of the day my advice to the elderly and to individuals who may be vulnerable is that they should always put their health first.

“This is also a time for us to keep a bit of an eye on our elderly neighbours who may be staying home to be safe and may need our assistance in terms of shopping and checking in.”

She said her office had suggested to the big supermarkets in the region that they could “provide a suitable time for senior citizens to be able to purchase staple items like toilet paper, rather than the current 6am rush hour”.

At the time of publication, there had been 112 confirmed cases in Australia, 60 of those in NSW, and three deaths.

According to NSW Health, 24 of the 112 Australian cases are reported to have recovered.