Eight-month-old baby among COVID-19 cases in Pilbara town outbreak
Health authorities say they're managing a growing cluster of more than 200 COVID cases in Roebourne, Wickham and Karratha, with those infected ranging from eight months old to people in their 60s.
Mawarnkarra Health Service (MHS) is the primary health care provider in Roebourne and said most of the positive cases were among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Senior medical officer Seema Basil said, in addition to the clinic, the nursing team was using telehealth and going door-to-door to support people with the virus.
"We switched in the middle of last week to a largely outreach-based service to the households where people might be feeling unwell, or unable to actually physically present at the clinic. But that's been received really well by the community," Dr Basil said.
"We've been working through our list of patients who we know are particularly vulnerable and actively targeting them with phone calls or with outreach or inviting them to come to the clinic to be vaccinated."
Dr Basil said it was important for the community to follow health guidelines and isolate for seven days if they had the virus or were a close contact.
"This keeps you safe, but it also keeps your community safe," she said.
WA Health's latest figures show there are 417 active cases across the Pilbara region, with 90 of those new cases.
Authorities suspect the number of positive cases in Roebourne could be higher than those reported, due to overcrowding.
Push to increase 'lagging' vaccination rates
MHS has been actively promoting vaccination, particularly given many of its clients live in crowded homes where social distancing and isolation can be difficult.
"With the kind of community we have and the family structures we have, being positive and not isolating just means that you put other people at risk, who may not be as strong as you, who may be more vulnerable than you and who may be more likely to become severely unwell with COVID," Dr Basil said.
She said MHS's team received support from the federal government to help manage the current outbreak.
"Vaccination rates in Roebourne have been lagging behind national expectations and the Commonwealth sent us some nursing staff to help us to lift the vaccination rate," she said.
Dr Basil said there had been an increase in the number of vaccinations recently.
"In the past three weeks or so there has been an uplift in the daily number of vaccinated patients," she said.
MHS is providing vaccinations at its clinic and going door-to-door for those who cannot leave their house.
Local clinic 'well stocked'
Dr Basil said there were initial concerns about getting enough rapid antigen tests (RATs) and personal protective equipment (PPE) due to supply chain shortages and delays, but the clinic was well stocked.
"Our orders have come through, the Commonwealth has supported us with PPE, and WA Country Health has also supported us," she said.
"At the moment, we feel that we have what we need and we are having very close communication with the Commonwealth so that anytime we identify that there's a problem arising there, they are helping us to troubleshoot."