SOCIAL media shaming is stopping people from getting COVID-19 tested, says a hospital chief executive after outrage from the public at a positive test in Portland.
News of a Melbourne visitor testing positive to COVID-19 in Portland on Wednesday was met with anger from social media users, who posted comments such as "fine them" and "stay in your own yards".
Portland District Health chief executive Chris Giles said the woman who returned the positive test was in town for a legitimate reason that fell within the four rules to leave the hot-spot areas.
She said online vitriol was "counterproductive" to the health and safety of the community.
"I understand everyone is concerned, everyone is fearful, but people are feeling the weight of the community trying to find someone to blame.
"It's counterproductive because people with symptoms instead of coming forward are hiding away hoping it will go away.
"If other people who are feeling unwell don't get tested because they see the amount of villification going on it's not helpful.
"I know everyone is fearful and no-one wants it but this is the chance of locking it down, but it won't happen with all this going on."
Ms Giles said of the more than 2600 tests conducted in Portland not a single positive case has been found.
She asked that people wait to be contacted with their results after being tested.
"Portland hasn't seen any community transmission at all, that shows people are doing the right thing."
Reaction to The Standard's reporting of the positive case in Portland was met with a range of responses:
- "Please for all our sakes stay home" - Pauline Colbert
- "Fine them! Shouldn't have been in the region in the first place!" - Tracey LIsson Monigatti
- "What is wrong with people. Bloody stay home." - Marlene Tait
- "There shouldn't be any visitors down this way from Melbourne still. How hard is it to stick to the rules and stay in your own areas." - Leah Brooks
- "Can't believe the selfish stupidity of some people" - Sharyn Merrett
- "Let's all keep the lid on this huge disaster and look out for each other in the meantime." - Grant Brissett
- "Should be fined. Anyone travelling out of Melbourne without good reason that ends up transmitting covid needs to be fined and even face jail time." - Sharnie MchPhee
- "The correct thing to do was stay in Melbourne" - Paul Sheen
- "Basically if you live in the hotspot areas. Please do the right thing and stay home." - Kathy Margaret Tabone
- "Why weren't they in Melbourne, I hope they got fined" - Danili Hocking
Speaking with The Standard earlier this month, honorary professor in Rural Health at the Deakin Warrnambool campus James Dunbar said disinformation on social media was one of the biggest threats to safety during the pandemic.
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