The president of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia has asked all grey nomads to return home, or if they’re still at home, to stay there.
In a media release today, Dr Hall said the reports of grey nomads still roaming throughout the bush were disturbing, and that the safest place for them was at home.
“We have had reports of convoys of Grey Nomads moving out into rural communities and quite frankly, that’s not acceptable,” Dr Hall said.
“We can only assume that they see this as a way of keeping themselves safe, but we can assure them it is absolutely not the way to go about it.
“This is not a grey area. They are putting themselves in harm’s way by moving and circulating in the community, and that is not how you socially isolate, people!
“They are exposing other communities, as well as other travellers within the Grey Nomad community, by potentially circulating the virus.
“They are draining the local resources when it comes to both medical supplies and groceries. Many rural towns are finding it hard enough to resupply, without an influx of travellers adding to the burden,” Dr Hall said.
“And most importantly, they will be potentially putting a significant strain on rural hospitals and workforces that will already be at capacity with the surge of patients we are expecting due to COVID-19.”
As we’re sure you can imagine, rural and remote hospitals have very limited supplies of critical care equipment, including respirators and breathing machines, and staff. On top of that, there is limited access to air transport to move patients suffering the effects of the coronavirus to larger regional Intensive Care Units.
“Travellers are actually putting themselves at risk in rural areas because they might find themselves in a country hospital that is already at capacity and may find they are not able to access the essential care needed if they become seriously unwell,” Dr Hall said.
“In normal circumstances, we love having you visit our rural and remote towns. But right now? Park your RV or caravan in your backyard, turn off the air-con, let in the flies, and use your imagination to live the dream.”
It’s not the only report of similar medical opinion being aired. On the south coast of New South Wales, doctors have stated that the previous message of visiting the fire-affected region to support the local economy was now not an option. Dr Andrew Gibson, a GP in Batemans Bay made it clear in news reports that the region hadn’t the facilities to cope in the event of a coronavirus patient surge and noted fears for the aged care facility communities.
While the message is strong, it’s necessary. RV Daily understands that there are many travellers out there wearing the Grey Nomad title directly or by association, but the nomad may have no home to go to. If that’s the case then exploring options for becoming a resident of a nearby caravan park for the foreseeable would be the safest and most socially-conscious thing to do. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, not being able to roam freely but its because we hold that desire so strongly that we understand it’s worth putting things on hold for the good of the many. And the return to the road when it’s safe for everyone to do so.