A THIRD person has tested positive to coronavirus in Warrnambool, South West Healthcare confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
Chief executive Craig Fraser said the male patient recently returned from overseas and, like the other two cases in the city, is recovering in self isolation.
He said the cases were unrelated and the Health Department was following up any contacts the individuals may have had in the lead-up to their testing positive.
"We've tested our second case at South West Healthcare through our screening clinic, the third case for Warrnambool, and that person's also followed really strict self-isolation procedures before testing positive and since being tested," he said.
"Our respiratory assessment clinic is continuing to prove an effective means of safely identifying coronavirus cases away from patients, aged care residents and staff.
"The really important thing is that at the moment, the people who have tested positive are those people who are returned travellers, so what we are working hard to ensure through social distancing is that we don't get transmission from people to people locally."
Earlier today SWH announced new restrictions on visitors. The Warrnambool Base Hospital and Camperdown Hospital will now only allow one visitor per day per patient, and only between 4 to 7pm.
Merindah Lodge residents are not receiving any visitors.
Children under 16 are also being advised to stay away after findings show some children may not exhibit symptoms despite contracting the virus from anywhere they may have been during their day-to-day lives.
As additional safety precautions, takeaways-only are being provided by Café Nosh in the Warrnambool Base Hospital's main foyer and the retail supplies shop in that foyer is now closed to walk-in customers.
"The maximum one visitor per day per patient is essential in doing everything we can to protect everyone," Mr Fraser said.
"It goes without saying, though, that while we must be vigilant we must also continue to be compassionate. For patients in our palliative care, paediatric and midwifery units, other arrangements, where possible, will be individually made. I really appreciate the understanding of our consumers and their families and recognise this is difficult. We'll work with them to try and connect them to loved ones with phones and video links.
"I want to reinforce that anyone feeling unwell should not enter any of our SWH facilities as a visitor.
"I also want to assure our communities that while a lot of our day, every day now, is being spent on addressing coronavirus developments we will not fail to continue our focus on caring for the patients we already have. Our quality patient care will not be compromised."
Mr Fraser said a number of SWH staff were self-isolating.
"Our staff are following the self-isolation guidelines, we've had people return from overseas like others, who are self-isolating and doing the right thing," he said.
"We realise in times like this how high-performing our staff are, how dedicated and how committed they are to their roles and also how much support we appreciate their families are giving them to allow them to keep coming to work because it's really critical that they keep coming to work during this period to help us care for people.
"The community needs to help us to look after all healthcare workers because we are going to become busier - we already are busy - and that will be something that will help us as an organisation.
"People need to limit their contacts with others as much as they can. Our councils have been proactive in restricting the amount of visitors to regional Victoria as much as they can which is great because the advancement of this virus will be dependent on more and more contacts occurring with people who have COVID-19.
"Wherever we can limit those contacts will help everyone."
The total number of coronavirus cases in Victoria is now 411.
The new cases include 36 men and 27 women (and one being further investigated), with people aged from pre-school age to late eighties.
Any person returning from overseas, or has had contact with someone recently returned from overseas must phone before visiting any emergency department, urgent care centre of GP clinic.
Any Australian returning from any country outside Australia is now considered at risk and required to self-isolate for 14 days.
For other reputable up-to-date information and advice please go to the Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus website at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus or call its Hotline on 1800 675 398.
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