Protest Against Covid Return Travellers at Tamworth NSW Australia

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The mission/purpose: of this petition is to make Tamworth regional Council, State Government, Federal Government and all other leaders involved aware that the community of Tamworth (and whole North West region) DO NOT WANT or support the plans to have return travellers/ Covid Positive Cases to be quarantined  at the Aviation Academy Tamworth, located at the Tamworth Airport. That we DO NOT WANT IT in any capacity, not temporary or full time.

To whom:

This petition is to the Major Col Murray and the other Councillors of the Tamworth Regional Council, to Barnaby Joyce, Member for New England (who first announced the plans via Prime News with Col Murray), to Kevin Anderson as State Representative, to Brad Hazzard (Minister for Health) and was quoted as saying, (NSW has shot down a major change to the way it quarantines people after Queensland revealed it was considering a bold plan to stop mutant strains spreading. The comments from Brad Hazzard came after the Queensland Premier revealed her government was considering turning rural mining camps into quarantine facilities. “We simply do not believe, the public health advice here in NSW, we don’t believe there would be an advantage, in fact, (it would mean) distinct disadvantages to consider moving our public health hotels out of the Sydney regional area,” Mr Hazzard said. To Premier of NSW Gladys Berejiklian who inspected the facility of Friday 29/1/21 and lastly, Prime Minister Scott Morrison who made the airport be able to take International Flights (for NZ Warriors NRL team, but now this purpose).

My personal story:

Our infant son, who spent 123 days in NICUs in Sydney and Newcastle as he was born at 25 weeks gestation, weighing only 629g at his smallest. He has Chronic Lung Disease (Premature Baby Lung Syndrome) and Cerebral Palsy (mild). He is now 13 months corrected age. If my son gets Bronchitis or Pneumonia or even a “bad flu” he will die from it. Tamworth Regional Referral Hospital does not have the staffing, insurance, the training, or even the equipment to help him if he needs lung support higher than CPAP (for longer than 8hours) and can’t do Intubation. All our “check-ups” and treatment have all been back at John Hunter where is the nearest, closest Respiratory Specialist. (Tamworth does have a consulting Doctor but he just does “low Flow” care and is for patients in cancer treatment or palliative, so not for anything higher risk or life threatening) So even without Covid risks, we have to weigh up if we risk driving the 3hrs to Newy to get care, or wait for a helicopter (which took 14hrs when he was coming anyway… and I have known many cases of people and babies dying waiting for this service before Covid). Now my vulnerable son, only has this life threatening condition until he is 2!!! Yes the irony and pain that I have this threat for my son, only during this one time!!! HOW CRAZY AND STRESSFUL. We have been told by the hospital that if our son got Covid he would be left to die, because sending a Covid Positive patient in the helicopter service would put that staff at risk, and would put the helicopter out of service and would kill “put at risk” all the people who already rely on that service for heart attacks, car accidents, burns etc… all the conditions our very limited Regional Referral Hospital already can’t do.

So our GP and GP clinic give us (and so do all other “Vulnerable People”) regular Covid Safe Plans to protect our son during these “unprecedented times”, from recommendations and “levels” from the State Minster for Health, who then gives it to Hunter New England Health. We have been in Lockdown since March 2020. We don’t go shopping in public, we do “Click and Collects” at times where there aren’t people. We do deliveries of all our food and whatever else we can. My daughter, our family, don’t go to public parks (we can’t make contact of more than 15 people out in public to “minimise risk”) at all (unless there is no one, and I wipe and clean everything). We haven’t been to any parties or BBQs (we arranged our son’s 1st bday but had to only have strict rules)… WE HAVE LIVED LIKE THIS FOR ALMOST A YEAR!!! We have been told to do this if we want our son to get through this “difficult time” It is hard, but we know it is necessary. My husband negotiated to work alone and he certainly misses going to the pub. I miss getting “pampered” and shopping for enjoyment. Our daughter is about to start Kindy, and we are stressed if “the worst scenario” hits the community, the first place that gets is the schools, her school is over 1000 kids. I would normally work in a workplace with 1080 people so have had to take extended Leave Without Pay. I don’t know how mentally (I’ve got PTSD) I can get through the stress for much longer (without any services available to me here in Tamworth, even nothing via phone). I’m scared for my family’s safety, the safety for my family and friends who work at the Hospital… and my community that I care so much for. I am aware of what Tamworth can and can’t do. Just over this weekend (30-31/1/21) the Hospital had no beds “was capacity”… so how can we take Covid cases?… just the week from 21/1/21 there are 24 Covid Positive Cases from return travelers in NSW. I’ve been told there are loads more.

This is my current life, and for many people with lung conditions, MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, cancer patients, people in “remission”, heart conditions, premature babies, Low Immunity Conditions, people over 65, obese (since Tamworth is the fattest in Australia that should also be a concern), if you are Diabetic, if you are awaiting a transplant/ organ donation, people on dialysis… the list goes on… you just don’t know about the numbers because we aren’t “in the media”. Trust me, these “vulnerable people” are people you know and care about.

My concerns are:

·         Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital is not on the current NSW state rollout of the Vaccine distribution. This seems unfair, our region is now at a higher risk (if this does go ahead) and we aren’t in the roll out. All current “recipients” will need to travel to either John Hunter Newcastle or Dubbo. Our hospital isn’t on the list because we don’t have a full time Respiratory Specialist (Tamworth has a visiting Consulting Doctor, trust me it is low care) and don’t have a Respiratory Clinic either. The vaccine needs to be check and followed up, and our rural hospital doesn’t have that… so we aren’t given the vaccine… but it is okay for us to get given Covid Positive cases (24 just this week, 6 today).

·         As is, the helicopter service, which is already not fulfilling the needs of our whole entire region (yes many people are dying waiting for them, when they would get that care in a city hospital… the “system is broken”). I’ve been told that the hospital won’t be using the helicopters to send Covid Positive cases to city areas where they would get Respiratory care and have Covid Clinics/wards… because the dangers that Covid Positive cases/patients would expose the staff flying those planes/helicopters and it would put them “out of action” when being cleaned between Covid Patients (takes 12hrs apparently). So cleaning them would put everyone else who has a heart attack, car accident, burns etc… that can’t get emergency or critical care at our “RURAL REFERRAL” hospital already. So that’s an issue for our community, and even for those Covid Positive Cases/ Return Travelers (who are Australian Citizens and have loved ones and family too) to be literally left to die if they need care CPAP or Intubated or anything else actually.

·         This weekend (as stated above) Tamworth hospital ran out of beds, so is there space and staff to care for even the “Low Flow” Covid Positive Patients… when without even Covid travelers, we can’t care for our own. Is that fair? Not fair on the overworked, underpaid (didn’t get their pay rise they deserved before Covid) and stressed Hospital staff.

What we want:

From what I’ve read and who I’ve spoken to, we; the community want to be consulted and updated on all the choices for our area (and our rates paid facilities) since we are at the highest risk (see what happened in Perth yesterday 31/1/21 and they have tighter rules, haven’t had a community case for 12 months, and get less return travellers/ Covid Cases than all of the Country and NSW gets the most, which will all be sent to us).

We want to know…

·         What conditions?

·         For how long?

·         How many?

·         What costs?

·         Who pays?

·         How many local workers?

·         Will they be in community while working at the facility (security, cleaners, cooks, nurses, and doctors)?

·         What measures/procedures are there to keep our vulnerable community safe? (e.g all staff will be living and working at airport, all care of Covid Patients are at Airport? Will have Respiratory Doctor/Specialist who can do all levels of care Low Flow, CPAP and Intubated for care at the Airport?)

·         All Return Travelers WON’T go to the Hospital?

·         More inspections/fines of local community and businesses to maintain current Covid Safe Laws? More police/ services to do this?

·         More sewage testing to check for Covid?

·         Re-open/longer hours of the Hospital Drive through free Covid Testing Clinic (currently only 1hr a week)?

·         The Hospital/or Training School to have its own fully staffed and equipped and isolated/ Infections Controlled room (recycled air-condition/ sealed rooms) treatment rooms that are isolated from the community (and the workers in community too). I suggest the Office area of the Training School/ OR the old Maternity/ Labor Ward that needs updating and fenced.

What can you do?

Please sign and share this petition if you disagree with the facility being placed at the Aviation Academy at Tamworth Regional Airport. Sign if you are unhappy with not being consulted (tell the community) and having little to no transparency (all the conditions not revealed) and to declare/ consult ALL measures that will hopefully keep everyone safe (and try to avoid a lockdown that would hit our struggling economy further), the return travellers, the airport workers, the hospital workers and the wider community.

Want to do more:

For further action, write emails, ring the leaders, write letters. Here they all are below:

·         Col Murray (Major of Tamworth Regional Council). Email: c.murray@tamworth.nsw.gov.au  Mobile: 0419627545. Address: 21 Hibiscus Way Calala NSW 2340

·         Brad Hazzard (Minister for Health and Minister of Medical Research). Email: Office@hazzard.minister.nsw.gov.au  Phone: (02) 85746000

·         Gladys Berejiklian (Premier of NSW). Email: premier@dpc.nsw.gov.au Phone: (02) 85745000

·         Kevin Anderson (Member for Tamworth). Email: tamworth@parliment.nsw.gov.au Phone: (02) 67661422

·         Barnaby Joyce (Member for New England). Email (warning he didn’t make this easy to find… which is a bit naughty of him): Barnaby.joycemp@aph.gov.au Toll Free Phone: 1300 301 839 Phone: (02) 67613080   Address: PO BOX 963 Tamworth NSW 2340.

·         Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Phone Cronulla Office: (02) 95230339  Phone Canberra Office: (02) 62777700

Thank you for your support.