Coronavirus Australia latest update: Victoria enlists NSW to boost contact tracing as hotel inquiry continues | Australia news

Victorian contact tracers are off to New South Wales to study that state’s contact tracing system, as the debate over Victoria’s preparedness to deal with the pandemic, continues.

Daniel Andrews said yesterday that there were experts in the Victorian contact tracing system, which have been studying other jurisdictions, but there are still things which can be learned.

Here was Andrews yesterday:

“They have done an amazing job and we are very, very grateful for that advice, providing us with those second and third opinions, giving us that sense of confidence that there is a culture of continuous improvement and we are finding sometimes minutes, sometimes hours, but there is always that work every single day, every shift, to try and be better.”

So the chief scientist, Alan Finkel, is taking Victorian health authorities to NSW to see what else could be done – particularly the decentralisation of the NSW system. Questions over what Victorian authorities did between the first and second wave continue, with Andrews asked whether or not the contact tracing team was disbanded after the first wave. Andrews has just said that everyone is constantly learning with the virus, and one thing they’ve learned is if you think you’ve beaten the virus, you haven’t.

Yesterday, the ABC’s health advisor, Dr Norman Swan said he believed NSW had just got lucky. But the prime minister has called it the ‘gold standard’ in contact tracing, so that is where Victoria is off to.

Victoria’s chief health officer, Professor Brett Sutton also spoke to Melbourne radio 3AW yesterday and admitted that at the beginning of the second wave, “numbers got beyond Victoria’s [tracing] capacity to deal with every case in a timely way”.

I wish the system were as robust then as I know it is now. I can’t say it would have been stopped with a NSW system,” he said.

There will be more on that today, as well as budget news as the federal government puts together its October document and all the other news which pops up, both in coronavirus and politics.

You have Amy Remeikis with you this morning.


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After Hurricane Laura, med student enlists colleagues to help hometown

Russell Ledet said the city is in need of tarps, generators and water.

Shortly after “Good Morning America” introduced a former security guard-turned-medical student on the front lines of the pandemic, Dr. Russell Ledet stepped up in the face of another crisis to help those in need after Hurricane Laura.

Following the storm’s wrath on his hometown, Ledet quickly got in touch with his team from the 15 White Coats, a nonprofit organization, to assemble help for the hard-hit, but resilient community.

“I reached out to the managers of the 15 White Coats and said, ‘We got to do something.’ So we got together $1,500 and raised another $3,500 and gave out all 5,000 of those dollars yesterday with the intention of raising more today,” Ledet told ABC News on Friday.

“I’m going down there today, but obviously I need a lot more help,” he continued. “The community of Lake Charles is truly a melting pot. We work together, we are a blue-collar community and we do everything we can to try to help each other and this is a time where our resilience will be tested, but as the 15 White Coats say, ‘resilience is in our DNA’ and I know we’ll bounce back.”

Laura thrashed through Louisiana with wind gusts of 137 mph in Lake Charles leaving a path of destruction in its wake and killed at least six people, but now the storm has been downgraded to a tropical depression as the city works to assess the damage.

Ledet spoke with Nic Hunter, the mayor of Lake Charles, who told him the city is in need of tarps, chainsaws, generators and “a lot of water because our entire water plant is destroyed.”

The U.S. Navy veteran with a Ph.D. in molecular oncology from New York University and now second-year MBA-MD student at Tulane University School of Medicine and A.B. Freeman School of Business said he has since got in touch with his family after the storm.

“I was finally able to talk to my dad but it was only a few minutes because reception was terrible,” he said. “I’m doing everything I can, losing a lot of sleep, but I’m okay with that because my city needs a lot of help.”

Ledet doubled down on the calls for help and highlighted the work he will do to collect and distribute donations.

“We need to help families in the city. I’m giving out of my personal money as well as from the 15 White Coats because they need help,” he said adding that he will be there with some of his med school classmates “to clean up the streets and help whoever we can, try to help in whatever way we can.”

“People can help by going to and hit the donate button and earmark them all for hurricane relief for Hurricane Laura,” he said of how to help directly. “We’ll make sure that 100% of those donations goes straight to the people and city of Lake Charles as well as surrounding areas because many of the surrounding areas have been affected, like DeQuincy, Louisiana, where my wife is from.”

Ledet also said that one way to get involved from a distance is to send bottled water to 2701 19th St., Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he will be helping out.

“There’s a big parking lot right next to my dad’s house and he’s willing to let people send whatever they can there, but mostly donations can come through,” he reiterated.

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War veteran’s father enlists in fight for a specialised PTSD clinic in Tasmania

A Tasmanian man whose war veteran son committed suicide after tours through Iraq and Afghanistan wants a 24-hour specialised support service for returned servicemen and women, and frontline workers.

Mike Turner has joined emergency department doctor Peter Wirth and unions representing police, firefighters, nurses and paramedics to push for the Federal and State Governments to set up a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) clinic in Tasmania.

The proposed “Frontline Hub” would allow Tasmanians to access specialist support and referrals to treat PTSD within their home state, rather than having to present at hospital emergency departments or travel to the mainland.

The State and Federal Governments recently announced funding for a feasibility study into creating a nationally-connected PTSD service for Tasmanian war veterans.

Mr Turner has had two sons serve in the military.

One of them lives with PTSD and the other, Ian, took his own life in 2017.

“[Ian] was there when [fellow soldier] Luke Worsley got the chop, he was there when Cameron Baird got the chop, and these things were very, very weighty on his mind,” Mr Turner said.

Tasmanian emergency medicine doctor Peter Wirth has suggested a PTSD welfare hub at Beauty Point, in Tasmania’s north.(ABC News: Damian McIntyre)

Dr Wirth said the terms of reference for the government-funded feasibility study should be extended to look into support for frontline workers.

He said 20 per cent of frontline responders were believed to have PTSD, but that the illness was underreported.

“If you could imagine being a policeman or an ambulance officer, would you want to come into [an emergency] department where you’re probably known by most of the people?”

Tom Millen is the Launceston General Hospital emergency department representative for the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

He said nurses and midwives were “subjected to trauma, life and death” every day.

“These experiences add up. I’m a human being first and foremost, and I’m as vulnerable as anyone else,” Mr Millen said.

“The problem for me is if I become vulnerable or I become suicidal or have depression, I have to turn up to my workplace at the emergency department.”

Serving Tasmania Police officer and Police Association of Tasmania spokesman Josh Hayes agreed.

“A hub like this would be really good in that we’d be able to help officers here in Tasmania, and be able to provide that support at an early stage, rather than waiting for health and illnesses to escalate to a much higher level.”

According to Mr Hayes, there were more than 40 outstanding workers compensation claims for mental illness within Tasmania Police.

“When we’ve only got a small police service here in Tasmania, that’s a really high proportion,” he said.

Dr Wirth has suggested a PTSD welfare hub could be located at Beauty Point, in Tasmania’s north, at the former Australian Maritime College site.

It would offer secure accommodation for people discharged from hospital awaiting further psychiatric treatment.

“The rates of PTSD are underreported, with up to 20 per cent of all first responders suffering some form of PTSD,” Dr Wirth said.

State Veterans Affairs Minister Guy Barnett said the government-led feasibility study’s terms of reference would be released “very soon”.

“There will be an opportunity for input from first responders and police, fire and emergency services and other services like that,” Mr Barnett said.

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