COVID-Informer: When quiet Australians pipe up, listen

Nurses are worried by the lack of personal personal protection equipment in Ballarat. Photo: Shutterstock
Nurses are worried by the lack of personal personal protection equipment in Ballarat. Photo: Shutterstock

Many in the emergency services, health care and similar professions probably fit the PM's criteria as "quiet Australians" - they just get on with it.

And that's precisely what is happening the world over as this pandemic unfolds. So when those professionals do speak out publicly, it's generally with good reason and worth having a listen. We should be listening right about now.

One nurse who works on general wards at Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital said they were offered no extra personal protective equipment against COVID-19.

The nurse, who wanted to remain anonymous, said many colleagues in wards "not deemed high risk" were terrified about potential ramifications to their mental and physical health and that of their family's health.

"No-one knows a lot about this situation but I think we'll all learn a lot retrospectively from the coronavirus," the nurse said. "I don't want to be part of a retrospective study. I want to be proactive now...even just for the sake of psychological welfare."

Only last week, the Bendigo Advertiser uncovered a similar issue nearby in Central Victoria where doctors were actually sewing their own gowns.

In no way related to that scenario, Bendigo now has 10 confirmed coronavirus cases, with more added to the tally across the state this afternoon.

The state's tally has risen by 96 cases since yesterday to 917 and includes four in preschool-aged children. One child is a one-year-old and three are even younger.

All up, regional Victoria's positive cases now sit at 73. But there are concerns that figure will be inflated once once testing delays are overcome.

And as the people of NSW and the ACT wrapped their heads around the magnitude of fines for "breaching social distancing rules", one in Newcastle is dumbfounded for a completely different reason.

Gary Murphy is one of thousands of nurses in the private system who have been told to take leave or stood down in the past week after the federal government banned most elective surgery. He's been painting his house - and he thinks it's "absolute madness".

"It's well above my pay grade to decide who should be paying nurses. Is it the shareholders in Healthe Care? Is it the government?" he said. "I don't know, but why the f--- are we wasting these precious days when we should be training?

"Why are we falling down in these critical hours?"

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This story Our healthcare workers: 'Why are we falling down in these critical hours?' first appeared on The Canberra Times.