From Monday 24 January, the daily COVID-19 update provided by Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) will begin to focus less on daily number of new cases identified and more on the impact on health facilities and frontline staff as well as vaccination rates, including booster shots.
Mark Spittal, WNSWLHD Chief Executive, said, "Changes will be made progressively over the coming weeks as we move forward through the pandemic, to focus on the most practical and important messages for the community.
"We want to show the daily impact COVID-19 is having on our staff and hospitals, as well as focus on the uptake of vaccines in the 5-11 age bracket and booster shots - we know these figures are important to our communities.
"The number of new cases identified really just reflect on what is happening in the laboratory process. In previous phases of the pandemic they were useful but now the Omicron variant is in most of our communities, they are not the best indicator of risk anymore.
"We have been reporting the number of known cases identified across the District but with such good vaccination coverage, it's incredibly likely there are many undiagnosed cases of COVID-19 in our communities.
"Put simply, COVID-19 is everywhere and that's why we have consistently been encouraging everyone to take sensible precautions all the time, rather than using the number of new cases identified on any given day as a catalyst to be COVID-safe.
"The number of new cases identified each day, both by PCR and RAT, will continue to be readily available on the NSW Health website and the Service NSW app. They be broken down to specific areas and we will continue to link to those sources, so that information is easily accessible.
"We need to focus on the number of people in hospital across the District because it shows not just the impact of COVID-19 on health services, but also the consequence of not being COVID-safe.
"Regardless of why people are in hospital, if they have COVID-19 their care requires significantly more resource and the wider impact of COVID-19 can place services under pressure.
"The impact on people who need non-urgent elective surgery is absolutely real and we are determined to get surgery back to being fully operational as soon as the need for capacity for COVID-19 care subsides.
"The individuals aren't to blame, no one who is sensible intentionally catches COVID-19. But the reality is, the more we do as individuals and as a community to stay COVD-safe the more we'll help reduce the impact on health services, which means those services can cope better and resume normal activity quicker.
"We need our health services and workforce there for everyone, not just COVID-19 patients. That's particularly relevant as summer ends and enter colder months, when we typically have an upswing in demand.
"The best way for our communities to help is to get vaccinated as soon as possible, gets the kids vaccinated now they are eligible, and get your booster shot as soon as you can.
"Remember, the vast majority of people who have COVID-19 can safely manage at home so have a 'Plan C' prepared if you, or someone in your household needs to isolate. That includes knowing how to manage your symptoms.
"Continue practicing all the COVID-safe measure we have become so familiar with - checking in using QR codes, wearing masks wherever required, practising good hygiene and staying home if you are unwell."
More information and resources:
- COVID-19 information: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious/covid-19/pages/default.aspx
- People exposed to COVID-19: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/self-isolation-and-testing.aspx
- Testing positive and managing COVID-19 at home: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/advice-for-confirmed.aspx
- Isolation guidelines and support: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/self-isolation-covid-and-close.aspx
- Caring for yourself with your GP: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/caring-for-yourself.aspx
- Support for children with COVID-19: https://www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/fact-sheets/covid-19-in-children
- How to prepare your 'Plan C': https://wnswlhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Documents/Plan%20C%20info%20pack%20V2_5%20January%2022.pdf
- COVID-19 vaccination and to book an appointment:https://wnswlhd.health.nsw.gov.au/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination