The opening of a government respiratory clinic in Ulladulla means local doctors will be well-prepared to detect and stamp out any new outbreaks of COVID-19 in the district.
The facility was opened this week by the Ulladulla Respiratory Clinic and is one of almost 500 GP-led clinics being rolled out across the country as part of the Federal Government's $2.4 billion health response to help combat and control pandemic.
The Ulladulla Endoscopy and Medical Centre ( UEMC) will operate the clinic from the car park outside the Ulladulla Specialist Centre rooms at 4/114 Princes Highway Ulladulla with access via the South Street car park.
Dr Jessie Hoang from UEMC, said the clinic had been set up to assess all people in the Milton-Ulladulla area with any respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, fever, cough, or shortness of breath - even those with mild symptoms.
"Only through widespread testing will we be able to detect new cases and prevent further transmission," she said.
"The designated clinic will take pressure off the hospital's emergency department and allows patients without respiratory symptoms to safely attend their own general practitioners."
Attendance at the clinic is by appointment only by calling 4455 5422. Online bookings will also be available soon.
There is no need for a referral and the service is free, however, Dr Hoang said patients should not "just turn up" at the clinic without a booking.
Dr Hoang thanked her team members for their commitment to helping the community stay safe.
"A big thank you to all of our staff - doctors, nurses and the admin team - for supporting the clinic and the Commonwealth. You are all brave and awesome people," she added.
Minister for Heath Greg Hunt said, while Australians and health professionals had done an outstanding job of containing the virus so far, the country must be prepared for further cases.
"With GP-led respiratory clinics open across all states and more on the way, we will be extremely well-prepared to stamp out any new outbreaks, wherever they occur," he said.
"This has only been possible because of the dedication and professionalism of our GPs, their staff and their representative organisations, all of whom deserve our thanks."
Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said, with almost half of the clinics located in regional, rural or remote areas the clinics were helping to ensure rural patients with mild respiratory issues could see a doctor, without putting other patients at risk.
"Regional Australians are doing a brilliant job of protecting their communities by following the advice of experts, however if you have a fever, cough, sore throat or other respiratory symptoms, I urge you to make an appointment at one of these clinics to get tested," he said.
"Regional people and communities must remain vigilant as we see the number of cases decline and continue to practice good hygiene and social distancing."
The respiratory clinics have thorough infection prevention and control protocols to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19. They provide assessments and testing for all people with symptoms to detect cases and allow them to be isolated as early as possible.