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9 April 2020: COVID-19 updates #ipswichtogether

4pm. Thanks for reading, have a safe and happy Easter

That’s it from us for today and this week, as we wrap up for the Easter long weekend.

This year’s Easter celebrations will be very different to years gone by as we spend it at home to protect ourselves and those around us.  

Everyone in the community has worked really hard to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we need to keep that up over the long weekend.

The #ipswichtogether COVID-19 daily blog will be back on Tuesday, 14 April to share important updates and community information.

In the meantime, keep an eye on Ipswich First this weekend for some ideas on how you can continue the joy, celebrations and connectedness in a different way this Easter.

Have a safe and happy Easter!

3.40pm. Ipswich CEO: Please do the right thing during COVID-19

Ipswich City Council is warning dog owners to be mindful of local laws when visiting parks within the local government area.

With off-leash areas closed as a result of Queensland Health advice in relation to COVID-19, some pet owners have been tempted to allow their dogs to be off-leash within the main park area.

CEO David Farmer said normal laws still apply.

“Nothing about the current situation is ideal,” Mr Farmer said.

“But we’ve had to close playgrounds, off-leash areas for dogs, and picnic areas. And the Premier has made it quite clear that people are not to buck the current rules.

“It’s frustrating not to be able to utilise all these wonderful facilities that council provides to the community, but the restrictions are in place for the good of everyone.”

He added that off leash dogs are not appropriate in general parks and may present risks to other people and their pets. Additionally the lack of control can also lead to people coming into close contact as dogs and their owners interact.

Mr Farmer said there were signs at most closed areas.

Water play areas are closed, as are water features at Robelle Domain. Water bubblers have been turned off for health reasons, and people are generally being discouraged from stopping to sit, particularly for picnics.

“Parks and walking tracks currently remain open for active visits, but only for locals who don’t have to travel a distance to get there, we’re continually monitoring usage” Mr Farmer said.

“Otherwise, the instructions are for people to stay at home over Easter.

“Just because an area is not fenced or roped off doesn’t mean it isn’t closed. Nor does it mean that normal laws don’t apply.

“As awkward as it might be to be so restricted, we still must do the right thing for our community. And at present, that means keeping dogs on their leash, staying away from playground areas, and not sitting at picnic tables.”

2.45pm. Slight dip in flu due to Covid testing and social distancing

Ipswich, like the rest of the country, is seeing fewer flu cases at the moment.

Increased testing for COVID-19 and social distancing measures have led to a small drop in influenza.

There was a slight rise in January-February – as coronavirus testing began – but as the national restrictions took effect (1.5m person-to-person gap), combined with people starting to get their annual flu jabs, March-April has seen lower numbers than normal at this time of year.

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said this week that early surveillance of the flu in Australia has shown that the social distancing measures have led to fewer cases of influenza.

“Our flu tracker survey – a series of questions where people sign up to a 15-second survey asking if you’ve been sick with flu-like illness – that is demonstrating that it is decreasing since those social distancing measures have come in and it’s in fact the lowest it has been in some years,” he said.

“That’s one side that we are showing, we’re having less problems there because of social distancing.

“But on the other side, we know that low humidity and low temperatures do tend to promote the infectiousness of respiratory viruses and we suspect this virus (COVID-19) will be similar.”

Prof Kelly said it was not a reason to relax and ignore the threat of flu or not get the jab.

Read here why it is important.

Health authorities are still urging everyone to get the flu vaccine this year

2pm. Ipswich’s household rubbish collection will continue

Ipswich residents’ household waste bins will continue to be collected under Ipswich City Council plans to keep essential services functioning in the COVID-19 pandemic.

While regular waste and recycling services have not yet been impacted, council is reassuring residents that contingency plans will be in place if household waste services are put under pressure in the future.  

Any measures that are taken will be communicated on council’s website www.ipswich.qld.gov.au, via Ipswich First and council social media channels as they happen.

Read the full story here: Plans in place to make sure red lid bins are collected

1.30pm. Constable Peter McAulay’s tips for COVID-19 isolation

Constable Peter McAulay – who returned to work at Goodna Police Station earlier this week, 18 months after he was struck by a stolen vehicle while on duty – has some tips for the community in the current climate of social distancing. 

“Everyone’s going stir crazy with social isolation,” he said. 

“That was my life for the past year and a half.

“Find new hobbies, set new goals, just try and create your own purpose in your life, even though everything’s been turned upside down on its head at the moment.” 

Read more about his return to work here: Constable Peter McAulay makes welcome return to work

1pm. Ipswich urges visitors to stay away from walking and running trails this Easter

Visitors are being told to stay away from Ipswich conservation estates over the Easter long weekend.

This includes the popular bushwalking trails of Paperbark Flats, Harding’s Paddock and Flinders Plum, and trails used by runners and mountain bike riders at White Rock and Spring Mountain.

Queensland Health advice is for people to stay at home.

“It is important for people to heed that advice,” CEO David Farmer said.

Read the full story here: Ipswich urges visitors to stay away from walking and running trails this Easter

12.30pm. Council and West Moreton Health to tackle COVID-19 together

In the latest demonstration that we’re all in this together, Ipswich City Council and West Moreton Health have joined forces to tackle COVID-19 on the front lines.  

Eight council employees are now working with health officers in the West Moreton Public Health Unit to assist as required and more council officers being trained as the need arises.

The unit conducts contact tracing which has proven vital to flattening the curve of COVID-19 here in Ipswich.

Read the full story here: Council and West Moreton Health join forces on COVID-19 front lines

11.40am. Brakes put on learner driver hours

RACQ has warned learner drivers to stay off the road unless undertaking essential travel, with the latest restrictions meaning going for a drive just to clock up your hours could leave you with a $1,300 fine. 

RACQ spokeswoman Renee Smith said driving to clock up the required 100 hours as a learner was now off limits.

“The new advice is all road trips are off unless you’re undertaking essential travel,” Ms Smith said.

“If a household is carrying out essential travel and the driver is a learner being accompanied by a supervisor that is okay.

“Taking a road trip or driving to get your hours up as a learner isn’t considered essential.”

Ms Smith encouraged all drivers to stick within the guidelines or risk a $1,300 fine.

“It will be up to police to determine whether they believe you are undertaking essential travel or not,” she said.

11.20am. Online festival of fun for Ipswich kids 

The Ipswich Community Youth Service’s (ICYS) online school holiday festival of fun kicked off this week. 

In a social media post ICYS said, “Forget about our mate COVID and let’s focus on fun and activities and giveaways. We have so many awesome things planned starting Monday [6 April] and you can do it all from the comfort of your home.”

So far they’ve had chalk selfie and TikTok challenges, as well as cooking tutorials and virtual yoga classes, and a bunch of giveaways. 

How can your kids get involved? 

Young people will need access to Facebook (either their own or a family member’s account), as ICYS will be announcing and running their activities on there each day. 

There’s no need to call and register unless the activity they promote asks you to book in. 

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for daily details and more information.

Wednesday’s cooking challenge was a hit!

11am. Keep up the great work in helping to flatten the curve, Ipswich

With no new COVID-19 cases in the West Moreton region in the past seven days, it’s clear that by staying home and sticking to social distancing rules, the Ipswich community is playing an important role in helping save lives. 

Check out the animation below to see how your social distancing efforts such as working from home, only leaving the house for essential reasons and catching up with friends via video link, are helping to stop the spread and flatten the curve.

10.35am. COVID-19 no excuse for speeding 

Ipswich Police are reminding drivers to watch their speed as they conduct their essential travel. 

“Police have been disappointed to observe drivers speeding across the Ipswich Police District recently,” they said in a recent media statement. 

“It is imperative to remember that speeding kills, and is a contributing factor to numerous crashes involving serious injury.”

Police also reminded residents that travel should be limited to ‘essential purposes’ such as travelling for work, collecting essential goods and services and for attending medical appointments, as the community works together to stop the spread of COVID-19.

More information: Reminder to slow down

Image credit: Queensland Police Service

10.15am. Sharing the music

Redbank Plains resident and singer, Virjilla Joyce, is gearing up for another live performance from her driveway this weekend, after she played for neighbours last week and streamed it on Facebook. 

Virjilla launched her EP at Springfield’s Ballistic Brewery earlier this year. 

But despite COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of all her upcoming performances, she plans to keep sharing her music and entertain her neighbours. 

Other Australian artists have also staged live music festivals in recent weeks on Instagram with the Isol-Aid festival to entertain music fans while staying home. 

Fans of opera are also in for a treat this Easter with Andrea Bocelli set to perform from the empty Duomo Cathedral in Milan. He’s streaming the Music for Hope concert live on his YouTube channel

9.45am. Stricter border controls include Queensland residents

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Thursday urged Queenslanders not to go interstate over the Easter long weekend, after announcing stricter border controls that will also affect residents.

Previously, Queensland residents did not need a border pass.

Under the new system, which will come into effect at midnight on Friday, any person coming into Queensland, including residents, will need a border pass to enter the state.

There will also now be different border passes for people coming from declared COVID-19 hot spots. If people are returning to Queensland from a COVID-19 hot spot, including those with a travel exemption, they will be required to go into quarantine for 14 days.

The system to apply for a border pass will remain the same, however there will be additional stages to identify those coming from COVID-19 hot spots. You can apply for a border pass here: www.qld.gov.au/border-pass

There will be no change to system for interstate freight.

The Premier also said the government was not ruling out further border control measures for the future.

“You do not want to get caught across the border,” she said.

“Everyone please stay in your state, stay in your region as much as possible, and stay in your suburb over this Easter.

“Let’s not put all of our good work at risk.”  

9am. COVID-19 explained for kids 

Just like adults, kids have a lot of questions about COVID-19. It’s an uncertain time, so it’s natural children want to know what’s going on.

That’s where Education Queensland’s animation comes in. The animation provides clear and kid-friendly information about the virus to help answer all their burning questions. Check it out below.

A booklet version is also available on the learning@home website

8am. Thursday, 9 April 2020. Thirty-seven cases confirmed for West Moreton

The West Moreton Health district remains steady at 37 cases testing positive for COVID-19, while testing for community transmissions has been expanded.

The West Moreton Health region went from 36 to 37 confirmed cases on 1 April and no new cases have been confirmed for the past seven days.

As of late Wednesday, Queensland had 9 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are now 943 cases of COVID-19 across the state.

Of the total 37 cases in West Moreton Health district, 27 were in Ipswich suburbs, seven were in Brisbane suburbs, while there was one in Scenic Rim Council area, one in Somerset Regional Council area and one in Lockyer Valley Regional Council area where West Moreton Health provides care.

Contact tracing continues, which means West Moreton Health are directly contacting people considered to be at risk through close contact with a confirmed case.

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