2020 COVID news posts from the archive

Who would have predicted last year that we would all be wearing facemasks and becoming immune to pictures of empty Melbourne city streets under an 8pm curfew, patrolled by police and soldiers?

There is little doubt that we are in for a long and painful haul back to a new normality. The numbers remain high and it is hard to avoid letting them dictate our collective daily mood. We have become amateur statisticians and epidemiologists and are encouraged by the lowering of the ‘R’ factor recently to under 1; our new found knowledge leads us to understand that this should reflect in decreasing numbers ‘soon’. But Christmas suddenly seems too close…

At the Medical Centre we are well aware of the increased numbers of Health Care Workers being infected in Victoria and are constantly looking at ways of decreasing our risk. Hence all the precautions that we have detailed every Mirror article. Please let our receptionists know if you have ANY of the (by now hopefully well known) following symptoms: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, recent loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath or chills. Let them know if you have been recently to a ‘hot spot’. They will then be able to most appropriately help you access testing and assessment.

We have been impressed by our local community’s response to getting tested as the message is clear that this is the best way of getting on top of any outbreak. Keep coming early if you have any symptoms. There is no fee attached for being assessed and tested, and although not particularly pleasant, the testing itself is frequently over within moments. We are finding that results are now coming back much more quickly, often in only a day or so; the self-isolation required until results are back is shorter than previously.

We warmly welcome two new receptionists (Rachael Francis and Deborah Youren) to our team as we say farewell (for awhile anyway) to Coby and Hannah, who we both wish well in their new endeavours.

These are tough and exceptional times. Continue to look after yourselves and your neighbours. And please seek help if needed.

FMC Principal, Phil Worboys

29 July 2020

Once again the COVID landscape has changed dramatically since our last article. The feeling that we in Australia had somehow avoided the pandemic now seems innocent and naïve.

Melbourne is in lockdown and the numbers are not going down. Community transmission is up and we are mirroring what has occurred overseas with multiple nursing homes now affected in Victoria. Rural spread is occurring and we are not immune in South Gippsland. There is an increased apprehension throughout all three Precinct locations.

Predicting what is ahead is difficult; preventing what could be ahead is at least partly in our hands.

If everyone abides by the rules of social distancing, hand washing, cough/sneeze etiquette, masks when not able to socially distance and staying away from work if at all sick then we collectively can make a difference. Get tested early for even the most minor of symptoms (fever, snuffles, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, new loss of taste/smell) as this will enable us to pick up any local COVID at the earliest stage and prevent spread. And avoid all non-essential travel especially to Melbourne.

There is a noticeable ‘message fatigue’ in the population at exactly the wrong time. It is too easy to become lax and indifferent, to bend the rules and, because there has been so little COVID locally to date, to presume that we are safe. Which is exactly the environment that will lead to the local transmission we are desperate to avoid.

At the Medical Centre everyone is now in masks. Although we are providing disposable masks, please do bring and use your own as our supplies will not last forever. Although not yet mandatory in country Victoria, the suspicion is that masks will be part of our defence for an extended period.

Our Respiratory Clinic is running well. A huge thanks go to our two nurse Rebeccas (“B1 and B2”) who do a power of work each day there in trying conditions. If you have symptoms, ring the medical centre. Your details will be relayed to the Respiratory Clinic nurses who will ring you back, triage you and give a time to come in for testing, assessment and help. It remains essential that once tested that people stay at home in self-isolation until the result comes through. (That means no shopping or going down the street!). Your help in keeping all respiratory illnesses away from the main clinic to protect our staff and other patients is appreciated.

As mentioned previously, please continue to look after your medical conditions. Be aware of the toll this environment is taking on your own and others’ mental health. Seek help if you need it and let us continue to look after each other.

27 July 2020

How to make a cloth mask

Please see instructions for making a cloth mask below. In addition to social distancing, wearing a mask is a simple yet effective way to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Let’s all do our part.

14 July 2020

The COVID landscape has changed quite a lot since last article. Again. And predictably not for the last time. For this is a book with many chapters, a plot with innumerable twists and turns, and with a conclusion which is impossible to accurately predict. At the Medical Centre perhaps the biggest change patients will notice now is the requirement for everyone to now wear masks whilst in the building, which we will provide on entry, where you will also be asked to hand sanitise. However, please note that the medical centre is safe to visit! With the ‘first wave’ (which fortunately never really eventuated) many of our patients stayed away from face-to-face appointments and we are keen to prevent delayed diagnosis and management of medical conditions as the situation again ramps up. Patients from Melbourne, the numbers of whom will be decreasing with the lockdown, are identified prior to attending and are more likely to be treated in the Respiratory Clinic end of the centre (or politely asked to see their Melbourne doctor if more appropriate). Telephone consults remain an option especially for our frail and elderly, but there is no doubt that these have limitations.

At the time of writing, there has been one recorded new active case somewhere in South Gippsland. The Respiratory Clinic continues to see all patients who ring and inform us that they have any of the following symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell. Patients will have a phone consult initially to be appropriately triaged and then given a time to come into the Respiratory Clinic (entry via Station Rd at the Rail Trail end of the clinic) to be tested. Patients have to self isolate until their results are back. No-one should attend work if unwell.

We do not know what is ahead. That is one of things making medical planning so difficult in this pandemic. With the increase in numbers in Melbourne certainly the gentle relaxation we collectively felt over the last month or so has gone. There is no place for complacency. Please, as we all fight “COVID-fatigue”, adhere to the principles of social distancing, cough hygiene, hand washing and getting tested if you have any symptoms.

11 June 2020

First off,huge congratulations to Dr Laurie Warfe for his OAM. Laurie has been working with us for the last year or so after moving for a ‘tree-change’ and his experience, unflappable nature and quiet, understated competency have been a welcome addition to the Medical Centre. Richly deserved recognition indeed and typical of the man that we had no idea of his prior achievements!


Let us not forget what could have been.
Quickly COVID can become yesterday’s news and we can become
complacent. Watching what is unfolding in South America and the USA can provide us with a reality check about the threat that we have so far averted in Australia. The current situation has been created through sound early advice and some brave decisions by our chief medical officers and politicians. And by adherence by the public to the restrictions installed. There has been a savage economic fallout and many people have suffered as a result, but there is little doubt that a bigger tragedy has so far been avoided and thousands of lives saved. There is no room for complacency.


With the easing of restrictions, Respiratory Clinics across Victoria,
including Gippsland and ours at Foster, have noticed a decrease in the number of people getting tested.

The important message is that now restrictions are easing, it is more
important than ever to continue testing so any community outbreaks can be detected.

Symptomatic testing is for people who HAVE respiratory symptoms
such as fever or chills or a respiratory sickness (e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or loss of smell). In addition, testing is recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (headache, muscle pain, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea). Just ring the clinic on 56822088 and book into the respiratory clinic at Foster. It is quick, safe and at no cost to the patient, it will help the cause in keeping the pandemic at bay.

As restrictions ease, it is now more important than ever to download the COVIDSafe app. This tool helps to protect the health of the community by enabling state and territory health officials to quickly identify and contact people who may be at risk of having been in contact with the virus. To date over 6.2 million people have downloaded the COVIDSafe app.

There have been more flu vaccines produced and as mentioned last
week, the Medical Centre has more to distribute. Just ring for an
appointment with our nurses.

Confirmed Influenza cases so far in Victoria this year are at 4,545
compared with 14,124 at the same time last year showing that social
distancing and hand /cough hygiene go a long way to preventing viral spread.

15 May 2020

The opening of the Respiratory Clinic occurred on Monday and each day has had about a dozen people seen and assessed. Patients with any new respiratory symptoms, with or without fevers, are asked to ring in and make an appointment. A phone triage with the doctor will then occur and a time to be seen arranged (if deemed appropriate) for later that day. On arrival, patients will be asked to wait in their car until invited to come directly into the Respiratory Clinic, which is situated at the Rail Trail end of the clinic (car park on Station Rd)…this ensures that the rest of the clinic is kept as separate as possible from potentially ‘at risk’ patients. Apart from some frustrating new IT issues, things have gone to plan this last week and we are happy to finally have it up and running. Due to the lower-than-expected COVID-19 rates, it has been decided that the Maternity Model we had adopted, whereby we looked after many of the Wonthaggi obstetric patients locally to free up space at Wonthaggi for pandemic patients, will be disbanded at the end of the month. The response of local and regional GP Obstetricians and Anaesthetists to help fill out our on-call roster, when we really had little idea what was ahead, was awesome and demonstrated a real ‘inter-country-town’ teamwork. Thank you. There will be another drive-through flu-shot clinic on Saturday but the numbers have had to be capped (again at over 300!) due to supply issues and is full. If you haven’t had a flu shot please ring and book through the medical centre and you will be put on a waiting list as we wait for more vaccines. Your continued patience is appreciated and remember that the Victorian government is recommending flu shots for ALL Victorians. Lastly, beware of scams that are out there and have affected some of our patients surrounding notification of COVID-19 results. We copy what the DHHS website has posted for your information.

9 May 2020

Be wary of scammers!

Scammers have been calling patients in our local area and wrongly informing them of positive COVID-19 test results. They have attempted to obtain personal information from patients by various means. Please remember that you will be notified of a test result by clinic staff, the doctor who performed the test, or a DHHS public health officer. See further information below from DHHS about this issue.

Cyber security and COVID-19

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is aware of scammers who are pretending to be government agencies providing coronavirus (COVID-19) information via text messages and emails ‘phishing’ for people’s personal information.
  • Scams are also including false notifications of close contacts to confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases which contain malicious links and attachments designed to steal personal and financial information when they are opened.
  • During this time, we remind everyone to be cautious and remain alert to coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams.
  • If you suspect that you or your patient have been a target of a scam or are unsure, go to Scamwatch – Report a Scam.
  • Following your test for coronavirus (COVID-19), you will be contacted directly with your results by your doctor or the clinic where you were tested, either by calling or by SMS. They will notify you of your results, regardless if it is positive or negative.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you will be called by a DHHS public health officer and given advice on next steps.
  • If you have downloaded the COVIDSafe app, you will receive daily notifications ensuring the app is running correctly, however if the app identifies that you have been exposed, you will be called by a DHHS public health officer. The COVIDSafe app will not notify any person directly that they are a case or contact of COVID-19

4 May 2020

Foster Medical Centre now has a respiratory clinic

Please read the full article here for more information about our new respiratory clinic.

26 April 2020

Indelibly sear this into the national public and political DNA: evidence-based prevention saves many lives. So letʼs all honour our COVID-19 heroes. Written by Simon Chapman AO.

This article is essential to both read and remember in the future.

16 April 2020

Cautious Optimism But We Need to Continue

Precinct Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Cautious optimism over the past week is creeping in as the figures show a slowing of the numbers of COVID-19 in Victoria and Australia. This has been a welcome relief from the previous weeks/months when a tsunami of cases seemed more likely and had all of us in Health Care preparing for the worst. The harsh social distancing measures, which have so hurt our businesses and economy, do seem at this point to be making the difference that our chief medical advisors predicted. However, winter and any relaxing of the restrictions, whenever that occurs, are variables that will come with risks of another increase in numbers and effects of the virus. For now the message remains the same: stay at home, be safe and practice physical separation when out for essential reasons…do your bit to help limit any spread of Coronarvirus.

For the first time in quite a while, this last week was one without major policy shifts or major new decisions to make. After weeks of fairly frenetic change, this was one more of consolidation and continuation of the processes previously outlined in the Mirror.

The Respiratory Clinic-end of the clinic is getting close to completion and soon we will be able to have a designated area completely separate from the rest of the clinic to assess and test patients who present with signs and symptoms suggestive of COVID. More to follow in coming weeks.

The rollout of the flu vaccination continues. We have been fortunate in being able to obtain as many flu vaccines as we have (thanks Nurse Nancy!), however each week we get far fewer than we order due to national supply issues. We realise many of you are still waiting and we urge patience. You will not miss out. The Drive-Through sessions have been a successful model to ensure social distancing and have proceeded smoothly…except for the atrocious weather each time!

We would like to highlight this week that there is a growing perception, not just here but nationally, that people may be ignoring their everyday health over concern about the COVID-19 crisis. We encourage you to continue seeing us, your doctors, in person or via telehealth, for existing conditions and for regular health maintenance. Putting this off or not having a test done or saying ‘I’ll wait until this COVID thing is all over’ could result in poorer medical outcomes. We do want to emphasise that we are very much still open for ‘normal’ business! We have strict infection control measures in place to keep you safe and we want to ensure that the overall medical health of our community does not suffer as a result of this pandemic.

10 April 2020

Please continue to practice social distancing so that we can further flatten the curve. This video from the U.S. provides a great depiction of the effects of distancing.

8 April 2020

Please have a read about the latest updates from Foster & Toora Medical Centres, South Gippsland Hospital, and Prom Country Aged Care in our most recent Mirror article here.

Have a safe and happy Easter…at home!

1 April 2020


For those patients who have got appointments for Saturday April 4:
It has been decided to do the flu clinic as a drive through service at the Foster Secondary School in front of the Gymnasium.
Please …
1. Enter the bus loop by the Hoddle rd (Fish creek-Foster rd) entrance on Pioneer st.
2. Wear appropriate short sleeves for ease of access!
3. You will be given further instructions after the flu shot
4. And please. If you have an obvious fever and are unwell do not attend. Postpone. We will be doing further clinics. Seek medical help if required through the medical centre.

Please have a read of our article in The Mirror here

31 March 2020

Foster Medical Centre has finally got more flu injections. We now have more spaces to fill on Saturday 4th April, at the South Gippsland Secondary School gymnasium.

Bookings are essential. Ring the Medical Centre on 56822088 for an appointment time.

To be clear…this is for ALL over 65 year old people only.

(We will do under 65 yo with chronic diseases another time. Watch this space).

28 March 2020


We are in the midst of a major health crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our local medical centres and hospitals are reorganising and preparing to provide the best possible service for our local communities, to attempt to keep them as safe as possible. We have an aging local population who are of course more at risk.

We will not be able to do this with a huge influx of holiday makers coming from the cities. We have limited capacity, at all levels, and we will reach capacity very early in this crisis.

Premier Daniel Andrews said “… our message to every…Victorian remains the same: Stay at home, protect our health system, save lives”.

PLEASE, if you are a holiday maker, seriously consider whether you should be here at this time. Our plea is for you to go home, stay safe and come back when the pandemic is over.

27 March 2020

BREAKING NEWS: FLU SHOT CLINICWe are taking bookings at the Foster Medical Centre for over 75 year old flu shots. We only have 100 spots available at present as we have limited stock. We do NOT have stock for anyone under 65 yo at this time. We will be holding the clinic at the South Gippsland High School Gymnasium, and thank them for making this space available, which will ensure social distancing and safety are both adhered to.Date: Saturday 4th AprilTime: you will be given a time at bookingBOOKINGS ESSENTIALPlease continue to check the Foster and Toora Medical Centre website and Facebook pages for further announcements when more stock is available.

26 March 2020

A message from Manna Gum Community HouseHi everyone,We are adapting our Emergency Relief service for home delivery to the Corner Inlet area, and are currently well stocked to provide for people who have been unable to purchase essential items from the stores.For IGA, pharmacy and petrol vouchers we have a limited supply and it would require the client to come and meet with me and register with our ER service. Our office is reducing its opening hours to Tuesday and Thursday 10am-3pm as of next week, however the phone messages will be checked daily and we encourage anyone to call before coming in for Emergency Relief due to the rapidly changing situation we are in.Best wishes,Bec Rebecca MatthewsManager, Manna Gum Community House33 Station Rd, FosterTel 5682 1101 Mob 0439 872 883PO Box 176, Foster VIC 3960 mannagumcommunityhouse.org.au

**Access the Manna Gum Care Emergency Relief Service Form here ***

COVID-19 in Victoria

Keep track of the COVID-19 cases in Victoria here

23 March 2020

Please read our recent posting in The Mirror: COVID-19 Mirror Article

22 March 2020

Please do not underestimate the effect of social distancing.

A message from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton