COVID complacency concerns highlighted

Complacency from residents around the threat of coronavirus is an ongoing concern for police according to outgoing Limestone Coast Police Superintendent Phil Hoff. Mr Hoff retired from the South Australian Police force on Wednesday and was succeeded by Limestone Coast Police Officer in Charge Superintendent Campbell Hill.

Speaking to The SE Voice on his final day, the outgoing superintendent addressed Australia’s gravest challenge in 2021, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which for much of 2020 to now has left the Limestone Coast relatively unchanged despite its impacts around Australia and across the world.

Supt Hoff said despite the consequences of the pandemic outside of our region and the emergence of the highly-contagious Delta strain in Australia, South East residents had developed “lax attitudes” towards the virus. “I often get asked about the coronavirus and I’m constantly amazed at why we seem to develop some lax attitudes,” the police leader said. “You only have to look at international news to understand the absolute threat this thing provides to all of us.”

Despite closed borders and mandatory 14-day quarantines, pockets of the coronavirus Delta variant, considered far more contagious than the original COVID, have emerged in Australia. The variant arrived as Australia continues its slow roll-out of coronavirus vaccines, with more than 7.8m vaccines administered to date according to the Commonwealth Department of Health.

According to South Australian Premier Steven Marshall there have been more than 550,000 COVID-19 vaccinations delivered in SA, putting the state about a third of the way through the program. More than 5180 doses have been administered at the Mount Gambier Central shopping centre COVID-19 vaccination clinic, but wait times of up to a month for doses of the vaccine are scheduled there.

However, The SE Voice understands the clinic is recording at least 15 cancellations per day. Supt Hoff said the arrival of the coronavirus Delta strain was a huge concern with one of the ways locals could protect one another being QR code check-ins through the COVID-Safe or MySAGov smartphone apps.

“Contact tracing is really important, he said. “I do not think people really understand how important that is and you’re not just protecting yourself, you’re protecting your family. “If you have bumped into someone that’s got the virus and you’re identified because you have been in the same location at the same time, that’s what the QR coding does. “Why wouldn’t you want to know that you might be infected? Wouldn’t you want to know that you can protect your family?

If you do develop the symptoms early medical intervention is always better than later medical intervention. “Coronavirus is here to stay for a while – it’s not going away any time soon. We need to have a really mature approach to it.” Despite his predecessor’s concerns of complacency, new superintendent Campbell Hill said there had been very few problems with breaches of COVID-19 directions by locals.

Mr Hill also acknowledged the efforts of the cross-border community. “We know every time there’s a border restriction that leads to impacts to industry, but it has a significant drain on our cross-border community down here,” Mr Hill said.

“From my point of view, I want to thank the community for the way they have gone about adhering to directions. “At the end of the day we cannot lose sight of the fact these are things designed to keep South Australians safe and that is the core, but certainly our experience the whole way through the pandemic has been the community is very, very quick to tie these things up.”

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