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92.9fm Regional News

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'Unprecedented times': Here's what our leaders say on Covid-19

Coronavirus is in Tamworth, and the city's leaders are urging residents to strictly adhere to the rules laid down by the government.

More than 70 people in the Hunter New England Health District have been diagnosed with coronavirus, with one in quarantine at Tamworth Hospital.

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said regional NSW is not immune to Covid-19, and it was essential that residents abided by the restrictions - whether it's in Manilla, Tamworth, Werris Creek, Gunnedah or Nundle.

"Currently in HNE Health, there are 72 cases confirmed," Mr Anderson said.

"One in Tamworth Hospital, two in John Hunter Hospital and 69 in self-isolation."

On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced real estate auctions and open houses, markets, personal services including beauty salons, arcades, amusement parks, play centres, community centres, health and fitness, social sport, cultural institutions and swimming pools will all be closed.

Hairdressers can only stay open if customers are limited to 30 minutes. Weddings are limited to five people – the couple, the celebrant, and two witnesses, while funerals are limited to 10 people.

Mayor Col Murray said the city is in "unprecedented times", and despite the severity of warnings, people are still not complying with social distancing.

"We must take our destiny into our own hands here in Tamworth," he said.

"If we don't take the opportunity to control this virus, then it will control us."

Cr Murray said he does believe that Hunter New England Health needs to be more specific in the information regarding locations of coronavirus cases.

"It needs to be better," he said.

"We are here today to say 'yes there are local cases, yes the virus is here in Tamworth, and yes we need to take serious personal responsibility.

"We need to know what is happening in our communities ... I think as individuals towns to know [how many cases there are] ... it is a matter for the public interest."

Mr Anderson said those discussions are being had, and "people need that clearer information to come to their communities".

He added that when there is a lack of information, someone will fill that void, even if the facts are incorrect, and this has been seen on social media.

"We need to get better at clear communication, at concise communication bout what is happening in our local areas and those discussions are ongoing," Mr Anderson said.

Cr Murray said they are working with the Tamworth Business Chamber to try and support local businesses; however, the majority of the financial assistance needs to come from the federal government.

Mr Anderson said there is no excuse to not follow the rules, from no handshaking right through to no house parties and social isolation.

On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said states and territories might look at introducing specific offences for people who hold house parties.

Mr Anderson said he hoped it did not need to reach that point.

Murray Russell, local emergency management officer for TRC, said a committee made up of all the senior agencies, including police and health, have been working hard to prepare for coronavirus hitting Tamworth.

He had one essential message to impart.

"The hospital will not cope if we allow this to escalate very quickly, no matter how well prepared our hospitals are they will not cope," Mr Russell said.

"We need people to take that message seriously."

The Tamworth emergency management committee is led by NSW Health, as is the protocol for a pandemic.

"The various other agencies are there as support agencies," Mr Murray said.

"Essentially, we are there to facilitate any assistance that NSW Health requires."

Mr Murray also commended the work of HNE Health staff in managing the crisis.

Crime Stoppers now has a reporting option to take information from the public about anyone not complying with Public Health Orders.

You can report online to:

If you are unable to report online, you can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Your information will be treated confidentially.

The public is reminded to utilise this service responsibly and not to abuse it. The time of emergency services is valuable and is best directed toward legitimate reports.


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