AUSTRALIA'S peak rural medical bodies have warned rural Australians that, while most of the recent COVID-19 cases have been in metropolitan areas, there is significant potential for new cases to present in rural communities in the coming weeks.
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine have urged those living in, and travelling through, rural communities to ensure they don't drop the ball on COVID-19 and are being COVID safe at all times.
"With the recent re-opening of some state borders, increased school holiday travel - particularly to holiday towns - and ongoing freight operations between states and into regional areas, it is reasonable to assume coronavirus could spread into more rural communities in the weeks ahead," RDAA and ACRRM COVID-19 Rural and Remote Response clinical lead Dr Adam Coltzau said.
"Indeed, some new COVID-19 cases have already been confirmed in a number of rural communities in Victoria and NSW.
"A key message from governments is that anyone showing any symptoms, however mild, should get tested for COVID-19, as this can greatly assist in tracing transmission of the virus.
"We urge rural Australians to ensure they are doing this and please, if you haven't already done so, download the COVIDSafe app to make contact tracing easier."
Dr Coltzau said it was critical rural Australians continued to maintain social distancing of at least 1.5 metres, regularly washed their hands, covered their mouth and nose if they coughed or sneezed, and self-isolated and get tested if they were showing any cold or flu symptoms.
"It is incredibly important that we don't drop the ball on COVID-19, and lose all of the progress we have made over the past six months" he said.
"We must continue to act as though there is coronavirus circulating in our rural communities - because, in all reality, it very well may be."
* Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.