Coronavirus health alert

TO BOOK A COVID-19 TEST, CLICK HERE OR CALL 1800 054 172

Update 14/09/20

  • At 11:59pm last night regional Victoria moved to the second step on the Premier’s ‘roadmap to recovery’. These changes are as follows:
    • We must continue to only leave home for 4 reasons: school or work (if these can not be done from home), care or caregiving, to purchase essentials and exercise.
    • Public gatherings: up to 5 people from a maximum of 2 households can meet outdoors for social interaction (infants under 12 months of age are not included in the cap).
    • Visitors to the home: “Single person bubble” 1 nominated visitor if living alone/single parent (all children under 18). 
    • Childcare is open to all children.
    • Schools return to onsite learning from Term 4 with safety measures.
    • Outdoor exercise and recreation allowed.
    • Restaurants and cafes open for takeaway and delivery only.
    • Retail: open, with density and other restrictions, hairdressing open.
  • You can see the whole breakdown of restrictions, as well as when we will progress to the next step, here.

Update 06/09/20

  • Today Premier Daniel Andrews released the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown for Victoria, which comprises different easements of restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. To read the Premier’s press release, click here. To view the full roadmap for regional Victoria, click here. To view the full roadmap for metropolitan Melbourne, click here.
  • We will cover key points relevant to regional Victorians here. These are the first steps—to view the second, third and final steps of the roadmap, as well as what ‘COVID Normal’ will look like, click here (same link as above). As of 11:59pm on 13 September, regional Victorians will see the following changes to restrictions:
    • We must continue to only leave home for 4 reasons: school or work (if these can not be done from home), care or caregiving, to purchase essentials and exercise.
    • Public gatherings: up to 5 people from a maximum of 2 households can meet outdoors for social interaction (infants under 12 months of age are not included in the cap).
    • Visitors to the home: “Single person bubble” 1 nominated visitor if living alone/single parent (all children under 18). 
    • Childcare is open to all children.
    • Schools return to onsite learning from Term 4 with safety measures.
    • Outdoor exercise and recreation allowed.
    • Restaurants and cafes open for takeaway and delivery only.
    • Retail: open, with density and other restrictions, hairdressing open.

Update 31/08/20

  • We’re several weeks into stage three restrictions in regional Victoria, and coronavirus case numbers are on the decline, which is fantastic—but we beg our community not to become complacent! Let’s not forget that a second wave could be followed by a third and a fourth wave if we are not careful! Please continue to get tested if you have any symptoms.
  • We are closing our online booking system for the time being, but you can still make a coronavirus test with us, or one of the other testing agencies spread across Ballarat:

Update 13/08/20

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is now focusing on reducing spread of COVID-19 in regional Victoria, where recent spikes in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong have seen a rise in overall regional infections. The premier is encouraging all regional Victorians to be as vigilant as if they were living in Melbourne, and continue to be tested for any symptom of COVID-19 (cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, fever, loss of sense of taste or smell). He has announced no further restrictions to regional areas as yet.

Update 06/08/20

Just a reminder that as of today (beginning last night) Ballarat is in stage three lockdown. This mean we can leave our houses for four reasons: buying essentials, attending medical appointments, exercise or work. You must wear a mask when outside your house. Fines apply for non-compliance. You can leave your house to escape family violence.

Update 04/08/20

  • Today it was announced that Victorians who fail to self-isolate when they are diagnosed with coronavirus can receive an on-the-spot fine of $4,957 and those who repeatedly breach the rules face court proceedings and fines of up to $20,000. Police are doing home checks to ensure that people marked as COVID-positive are isolating. There is a $200 on-the-spot penalty for not wearing a mask in public, as well as a $1,652 fine for those caught breaching restrictions.
  • Even during these heightened restrictions—even for those in Melbourne during the curfew hours of 8pm-5am—you can leave your house to escape family violence. You will not be fined. If you’re in immediate danger call 000. Supports are always available for you here.
  • There may be some confusion about what restrictions apply to regional Victoria—especially regional Victorian businesses—after the Premier’s address yesterday, which focused on the forms of business and industry that are allowed to operate during new restrictions. Everybody in Victoria has been strongly recommended to work from home wherever possible. Beyond this, only select businesses will be impacted. This means that:
    • restaurants and cafes can only offer delivery and takeaway
    • community sport will stop
    • beauty and personal services will close
    • entertainment and cultural venues will also close.

Update 03/08/20

  • You can now make an appointment for our COVID-19 test clinic online! Click on the link above and follow the prompts to make an appointment.
  • As Victorians we are now required by law to wear masks when outside of our homes. For more information about what’s required, including exemptions and fines, can be found here.

Update 02/08/20

Today the premier of Victoria declared an official ‘state of disaster‘ for the whole of Victoria. This is to be taken very seriously, and has some very real implications for us Victorians.

Regional Victoria has been placed again in stage 3 restrictions, beginning this Wednesday 5 August at 11:59pm. This means that we can leave the house for four reasons only: medical appointments, shopping for essentials, work or exercise. Masks must be worn at all times outside the house. Exact details for restrictions to regional Victoria can be found here.

Melbourne has entered stage four restrictions, which are detailed here. No regional Victorian should enter Melbourne for any reason. Police will be enforcing restrictions with greater vigour than at earlier periods.

This is a very difficult time for all of us, but these measures are in place to save lives and keep us safe. To our valued clients, the BCH team will continue to communicate with you as we manage this change. Your care and support remain our priority. We will get through this, and we will get through it more quickly if we all do the right thing. Working together – though apart – as one community.

Update 30/07/20

The Premier of Victoria has released new restrictions for regional Victorians, coming into effect tonight and this coming Sunday.

  • From 11:59pm tonight, people living in the shires of Colac-Otway, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains and the Borough of Queenscliffe will no longer be able to visit other people’s houses, or have people come to their houses. Gyms, restaurants, bars and schools (among other retail and hospitality establishments) will remain open as usual.
  • From 11:59pm on Sunday, all Victorians will be required to wear a face mask or covering when leaving their house.

Update 20/07/20

Here is more information about the BCH COVID-19 testing centre, in response to some commonly-asked questions. If you have any further questions that are not addressed below, please click on ‘Make an enquiry’ to the right-hand side of your screen and submit your question there.

  • What are the clinic’s operating hours? Monday to Friday, 9:00-4:00pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 9:00-2:00pm
  • What is the phone number to book and when can I call? 1800 054 172. This phone line is operational Monday to Friday, 9:00-4:00pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 9:00-2:00pm. Please note that the system is overloaded at the moment, so please be patient when you ring.
  • What is the anticipated turnaround for a test result? We are aiming to get test results back in 48 hours but as the site is just being established and there is significant numbers of testing happening across Victoria this cannot be guaranteed
  • How far in advance is the clinic booked? As the clinic has just commenced operating we have been able to get people in for an appointment the next day. However we are now receiving a significant number of calls and we cannot guarantee such a quick turnaround in the future. Please remember there is another testing clinic operated by UFS at Lucas Community Hub, which has also expanded its capacity. You can ring or make an appointment online for that clinic (call 03 4311 1571 or book online) and we recommend you also try to get an appointment there, especially if you have private transport.
  • Can people without symptoms be tested? This testing clinic, in line with the Department of Health and Human Services’ current recommendations for Ballarat, is only for people with symptoms, including a cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, fever, loss of sense of taste or smell. People who have had contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or who work in a healthcare or aged care service can also contact us for a test. We appreciate people are concerned and would like to be tested even if they are asymptomatic, but these are the current guidelines for this clinic. If you are concerned we urge you to discuss this with your GP.
  • Where is the clinic? The address of the COVID-19 testing centre is not a secret but it has not been advertised to try and reduce the risk of people ‘dropping into’ the clinic to ensure we can maintain social distancing requirements. It is an appointment only clinic. The location is at the Senior Citizens Centre, 16 Little Bridge Street. This is a central location and well serviced by public transport for those people who can’t get to Lucas Community Hub. The senior citizens are not using the site so there is no risk to seniors. Everybody tested is told when they make their appointment to go straight to the clinic and straight home again, so locals should not be concerned that people will go elsewhere (the supermarket, etc.) while potentially contagious.
  • Can I walk in and book an appointment? Please remember that this is an appointment-only clinic, so don’t just turn up at the clinic, so that we can keep everybody safe.
  • Please remember that if you have a car, the testing site at Lucas Community Hub operated by UFS is also open for business and has expanded its capacity, so please consider also making your appointment there.

Update 17/07/20

We are pleased to announce that BCH will be operating a second COVID-19 testing site for Ballarat! The site is centrally located and can be attended by appointment only. Please call 1800 054 172 to make an appointment.

 

Update 09/07/20

  • Metropoliton Melbourne is officially locked down. Key messages at this time are very simple, but very important:
    • Do not visit Melbourne. It is in lock down, which means that visiting any Melbourne suburb and returning to Ballarat and other regional towns has a high risk of spreading the virus.
    • If you have any symptoms, however mild, get tested. This includes cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste.
    • Ballarat remains in stage 2 restrictions. This means no more than 10 people can gather at a time outside, and no more than five people can gather inside a household at a time apart from normal residents. Businesses will be able to continue with current rules in Ballarat.
    • If you need to attend an appointment at a Ballarat Community Health site, you still can! However all appointments that can be done via telehealth will continue to be delivered in this virtual way. If you come for a face-to-face appointment, you will have to wear a face mask (provided) inside the building, have your temperature taken and submit your post code.
    • Our team has put together a document of key messages, particularly for those in refugee and migrant communities, which can be downloaded on this page.

Update 06/07/20

Update 29/06/20

  • The Victorian Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, has released a statement encouraging parents and caretakers to be very careful these school holidays about social distancing, in an effort to reduce coronavirus cases in Victoria. You can read the whole statement here.

While we’ve all been doing a good job so far, it’s not over yet. We are still in a danger period and we are all responsible for stopping the spread of COVID-19 and avoiding a second wave.

So remember to wash your hands, avoid going out into public spaces unless you have a good reason to, and only see those who you need to see.

 

Update 25/06/20

  • In case you missed it, Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, has recently announced further restrictions for Victorian households. These are in response to an increase in coronavirus cases across Victoria in recent weeks. These came into effect on Sunday 21/06/2020. You can view the full statement from the Premier’s office, including a comprehensive explanation of the restrictions, here.

Update 15/06/20

  • The Rotary Club of Wendouree Breakfast is helping Ballarat Community Health to respond to the challenge of digital poverty in the era of COVID-19. This grant will allow people who are unable to join in their usual programs to get connected digitally, which will be of enormous help to those with various mental and physical health conditions. Check out the whole media release here.

Update 09/06/20

  • It’s not too late to organise workplace flu shots! Ballarat Community Health’s Workplace Health and Wellbeing program is still providing flu vaccination clinics for Ballarat workplaces. Make sure your employees are protected all through this flu season. We have a limited supply of shots left, so book in ASAP.

Update 04/06/20

Update 28/05/20

  • As students start to return to schools we’ll also begin to gradually and carefully increase our face-to-face services and programs. More information to come over the next week or so, so keep your eyes peeled!
  • The Premier of Victoria has announced further easing of coronavirus restrictions. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check out the full statement on the premier’s website.

Update 21/05/20

  • Our team has administered over 5,000 flu vaccinations this year! This is a fantastic number, and we’re so pleased to see Ballarat businesses taking the health of their workers seriously, especially at this tricky time.
  • If you’re feeling the pinch at the moment because of loss of work or some other coronavirus-related factor, check out this list of financial and legal resources you can access to help at this time.
  • Many of our services are operating as usual! Doctors and allied health appointments are still going ahead virtually, as are some of our community and school programs. Our gym and exercise programs are still closed for the time being, but we can’t wait to get back to it when it’s safe to do so! The safety of our community and staff is our top priority. If you’d like to know what exactly is going ahead, make an enquiry via the menu to the right of your screen, or give us a call on (03) 5338 4500.

Update 14/05/20

  • Things definitely appear to be on the up, but there are new cases of coronavirus reported in Victoria each day, so Victorians should not become complacent! Please continue to practise social distancing, wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitiser, and ensure you’re only leaving the house for the prescribed reasons. If you are unwell, stay at home and call your doctor—(03) 5338 4500—and if you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus (sore throat, cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath and/or runny nose), call the hotline on 1800 675 398.
  • Check out this page we’ve been putting together of resources you can use from home!

Update 11/05/20

  • The Victorian Government today announced some easing of coronavirus restrictions, so that you can now visit family and friends, so long as there are no more than five people in a house. Other restrictions still apply, so keep safe everyone!
  • We’re heading into our third month of the coronavirus pandemic and the second month of isolation, and so it’s completely normal if you’re feeling cut-off from the world, anxious and depressed. If you are, the Black Dog institute has this great page on resources for anxiety and stress during the coronavirus pandemic. Check it out and pass it on.
  • Similar to the above, here is a great resource particularly for seniors, or elderly people who live alone, and are struggling to stay connected during this pandemic. Please share it to any older person who you think might need support during this time!

Update 07/05/20

  • We’re a couple of months into isolation now, and if you find you are struggling with mental health or wellbeing, here are some fantastic organisations and resources that can help support you to improve your mental health.
  • If you’re feeling the pinch and could use some help to get groceries, fruit and vegetables, check out this information about Ballarat food relief services.

Update 28/04/20

  • Just a reminder—doctors appointments are still considered an essential activity in the coronavirus pandemic, so if you need to see a medical professional, please don’t hesitate! In fact, far from slowing down, we actually have two new doctors working at our Lucas and Sebastopol sites, with a third new doctor joining our Sebastopol team in early May! Give us a call on (03) 5338 4500 to book an appointment.
  • Similarly, our Drink Drive Drug Drive programs are still running virtually—all you need to participate is a device with a camera and an internet connection. Check it out today.

Update 22/04/20

  • Put it in your diaries! We will have three new doctors starting in April and May, who will be working across various specialties at our Lucas and Sebastapol sites, as well as general medicine. More information to come.

Update 14/04/20

Update 07/04/20

  • We have a new page that we will be updating with resources for kids and families during the coronavirus pandemic. If you have any particularly valuable resources, that you think your community might find useful, send them to us at info@bchc.org.au.
  • Another page we will be regularly updating is the financial and legal resources page: there are many who are feeling the strain or isolation, or lack of work, and so we want to provide you with as much knowledge and as many resources as may be valuable to you. Again, if you have any great resources to do with financial or legal aid during the coronavirus pandemic, send them to info@bchc.org.au.

Update 06/04/20

  • Our wonderful counselling services coordinator, Katrina Bevelander, has kindly put together another relaxation podcast, to help us to unwind and prioritise our mental health in these uncertain times. Have a listen!
  • Many will already know that Australia has now reached a level of restrictions that require you to stay at home save for four reasons. Non-compliance with these strictures can result in heavy fines from the police, so take care to follow the rules, folks! It’s our what each of us, as individuals, can do to stop the spread. You may only leave your house if:
    • going to work/education
    • shopping for essentials
    • attending medical appointments
    • exercising.
  • We are unable to schedule new bookings for workplace flu vaccinations at the moment, but we are currently trying to source additional vaccines, and can place your organisation on a waitlist until that time. If you have already booked BCH to provide your workplace with the 2020 flu shot, please note that we are changing the mode of delivery to offsite clinics for all your staff.
    • All flu vaccinations will be provided from a variety of fixed locations across Ballarat.
    • This set up will ensure we can maintain social distancing requirements
    • It will also mean staff who are working from home can still access a flu vaccination without having to come into their workplace, which may no longer be operating.
    • Please note, our strict social distancing policies will ensure our staff and your staff are as safe as possible from transmission of COVID-19.
    • We will ring you over the next couple of days to discuss the process and scheduling of your staff.

Update 31/03/20

  • Our doctors are taking new patients! We are also pleased to say that we have a new GP, Dr Jennifer Celestino, starting at Lucas this week, and welcome her to the BCH fold. She is focused on delivering care for the family, so patients from the very young to nannas and poppas are welcome! Please note that all doctors appointments are still being held over the phone.
  • Another great resource for families—how to speak to kids about coronavirus.

Update 30/03/20

  • Australia Post is providing a home medicine delivery service. There are some restrictions and criteria for this service, but it’s a great initiative to help vulnerable and self-isolated people access prescription medication remotely. You can read this factsheet on the service from the government, or you can apply directly through Australia Post.
  • Below is a summary of the latest information from the government:
    • Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people.
    • Everyone should stay home unless you are shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.
    • People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.
    • Evictions will be put on hold for 6 months by the states and territories. Landlords and renters are encouraged to talk about short term agreements. More information to come this week.
    • If you are in self-isolation because you are confirmed or suspected to have coronavirus (COVID-19), or have been in close contact with a confirmed case, use this form to help us track the spread of the virus.
    • A safety net package of $1.1 billion has been announced by the prime minister to expand mental health and telehealth services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief.
  • Resources for families and children:

Update 27/03/20

  • Our GP clinics are still operating, but via phone appointments! In order to support the safety of our clients we want them to be able to stay at home while accessing our healthcare, as much as possible. Our GPs will be doing all appointments over the phone to support this. Please call (03) 5338 4500 to make an appointment with your GP, and provide the number you would like them to call you on at the time of the appointment.
  • Given the current situation with the spread of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to receive your flu vaccination to protect yourself from getting the flu and/or the development of flu symptoms, triggering the anxiety, inconvenience and disruption of 14 days self-isolation. If you have, or are planning to engage BCH to provide your workplace with the 2020 flu shot, please note that we are changing the mode of delivery to offsite clinics for all your staff.
    • All flu vaccinations will be provided from a variety of fixed locations across Ballarat.
    • This set up will ensure we can maintain social distancing requirements
    • It will also mean staff who are working from home can still access a flu vaccination without having to come into their workplace, which may no longer be operating.
    • Please note, our strict social distancing policies will ensure our staff and your staff are as safe as possible from transmission of COVID-19.
    • We will ring you over the next couple of days to discuss the process and scheduling of your staff.

Update 26/03/20

Update 24/03/20

Update 20/03/20

  • We’re getting constant advice about how to stay physically healthy during the coronavirus pandemic, but not much is being said about the effects these uncertain times can have on our mental health. With this in mind, BCH counselling coordinator Katrina Bevelander has very kindly put together a short relaxation podcast, which will help you to prioritise your mental health. Find a comfortable spot, close your eyes, listen—and relax.

Update 19/03/20

  • Our triage system commenced today at Sebastopol and Lucas. This is a measure to promote good hygiene practises for our clients entering the buildings, as well as supporting our customer service team.
  • We have made contact with community leaders to provide information to at-risk groups in our community, especially those people who are less likely to be accessing mainstream media during this time. This could be because of a language barrier, or other cultural reasons. We will provide these leaders with up-to-date information that they can translate into their own language and distribute to their community.

Update 18/03/2020

  • If you’re struggling with anxiety or uncertainty at the moment, this page has collected several online forums and helplines, as well as lots of tips for mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. These resources are literally there to help us in times like these, so if you’re struggling, reach out!

Update 17/03/2020

  • We encourage everyone to follow social distancing measures to help keep our community safe. This means avoiding unnecessary socialisation wherever possible and keeping 1.5 metres away from others. More information can be found on social distancing here.
  • Here are ten ways to minimise your risk of coronavirus! A very useful fact sheet.
  • From 18/03/20 we will no longer be running face-to-face counselling until further notice. Counsellors will still be available by phone or online programs (Zoom or Skype). Your counsellor will make contact with you by phone at the time of your next appointment. You can then arrange the best way to go ahead for future appointments. If you prefer phone or online, this can be arranged. We will regularly review this decision and will return to regular consultations as soon as possible.
  • Also from 18/03/20 all support, recreational and therapeutic groups are suspended until further notice, in an effort to help slow the spread of the virus. We are continuing some small group training over the next two weeks as social distancing guidelines are easily observed in these sessions. This will be reviewed frequently. All registered participants will be contacted by phone.

Update 16/03/2020

  • If you are concerned or unwell, with a fever, respiratory condition or flu symptoms, please call your GP before presenting to a BCH site. In the interest of keeping our community safe and well during the coronavirus threat, our doctors are recommending this in accordance with the RACGP safety guidelines.
  • From 17 March all BCH gyms will be closed until further notice. We will continue to monitor the threat level over the next month and will reopen the gyms when it is deemed safe to do so. Members will not be charged while the gyms are closed.
  • There are now more translated resources for coronavirus available. Check out the Department of Health and Human Services website to access this information.

Coronavirus fact sheet

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus. Symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia. Some people recover easily, while others may become sick very quickly. There is evidence that it spreads from person to person. Good hygiene can prevent infection.

The Australian Government’s Department of Health is monitoring the respiratory illness outbreak caused by coronavirus. We will update this alert every day with the latest medical advice and official reports as provided by the Department of Health.

Symptoms of people with coronavirus may include:

  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
  • shortness of breath.

How it spreads

There is evidence that the virus spreads from person to person. It is most likely spread through:

  • close contact with an infected person
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching objects or surfaces that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, then touching your own mouth or face.

Prevention

Everyone should be practising good hygiene to protect against such infections. Good hygiene includes:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water
  • using a tissue and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • avoiding close contact with others, including touching.

If you have a confirmed case, you need to isolate yourself to prevent it spreading to other people.

Diagnosis

If you become unwell and think you may have symptoms of coronavirus, seek medical attention by contacting our GP clinics on (03) 5338 4585. Tell our doctors about your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone now diagnosed with coronavirus.

If you must leave home to see a doctor, wear a surgical mask (if you have one) to protect others.

If you are very unwell, please call Ballarat Health Services emergency department on (03) 5320 4000 and advise of your symptoms. Alternatively, you can call the Department of Health and Human Services hotline on 1800 675 398, or visit their website.

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Call our Lucas, Sebastopol, Wendouree, Smythesdale and Victoria Street sites on (03) 5338 4500
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