Dubbo, NSW, Australia, April 22, 2020 -- Misunderstandings about coronavirus symptoms and restrictions have led to a surge in calls to the COIVD-19 Clinical Call Centre during the past few weeks.
The call centre was launched on March 20 to assist people in the Western NSW Local Health District and since then more than 1100 calls have been received.
Call centre manager Lyndal O'Leary said call takers located in Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange and Broken Hill have answered calls on everything to do with the virus and its impact on people's lives.
"If the PM makes a statement or the chief health officer makes a statement, that'll be the flavour of the calls in the morning," she said.
"Other calls are about what happens if I get it? Should I be in isolation? What does isolation mean? What is essential travel? Then there's all the nuances surrounding the legislation."
Ms O'Leary said people with COVID-19 symptoms call for support, while others ring for work advice following a close contact with a suspected or confirmed case.
"We get calls from people who were in isolation because they'd had a close contact with a suspected case that proved to be negative," she said.
Ms O'Leary said some workplaces request a letter from health authorities before they allow these employees back and call centre staff can liaise with the Public Health Unit on their behalf for this.
People also call to advise that someone they know is not abiding by self-isolation restrictions or flouting non-essential gathering laws by having a party.
These callers are referred onto Crime Stoppers or their local police.
In the first 11 days of operation, 522 calls were received with 65 per cent (341) of them from the general public, 25 per cent (133) from health professionals and the rest from businesses, aged care facilities and the police.
The COVID-19 Clinical Centre operates Monday to Friday from 8am-5pm and can be contacted on 1300 066 055.
After hours, members of the general public can contact HealthDirect for assistance on 1800 022 222 for further information.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Thursday, April 23, 2020
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