What experts learnt from Colac outbreaks

 

Current employee information and methods to cut through language barriers are key to controlling coronavirus, an inquiry has heard.

Colac Area Health chief executive Fiona Brew and Barwon Health Department of Infectious Diseases deputy director Associate Professor Daniel O'Brien appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into the state government's COVID-19 contact tracing system and testing regimen on Wednesday.

Colac was struck by two major outbreaks.

The first emerged in July, predominantly affecting the Australian Lamb Company, while another unrelated cluster appeared in late August.

The Australian Lamb Company, source of a major outbreak in Colac. Picture: Jay Town
The Australian Lamb Company, source of a major outbreak in Colac. Picture: Jay Town

More than 100 confirmed cases emerged from the first outbreak, which was controlled within four weeks, while there were almost 40 confirmed cases in the second, which was controlled within two weeks.

The inquiry heard key learnings from the Colac outbreak included the knowledge of local health services was critical, businesses need to maintain up-to-date employee contact information, and rapid response, including clinically led same-day contact tracing and testing, was important.

Ms Brew said methods to communicate with the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community included infographics, while people also requested texts so messages could be translated into their language.

"When we were looking at getting results out for our (CLAD community), there were six or seven people giving the same mobile number and we didn't find that out until we were actually trying to contact them," she said.

Ms Brew said there had been early delays of "a couple of days" in receiving test results.

Prof O'Brien said having the capacity to receive results within 24 hours made a "massive difference".

Australia's chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel said Victoria's contact tracing system had "significantly improved".

"It all comes down to preparation and there's no question the Victorian system was overwhelmed," Dr Finkel said.

Hearings will continue on Monday.

 

 

 

Originally published as What experts learnt from Colac outbreaks


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