Cunnamulla Hospital. Picture: Josh Woning.
Cunnamulla Hospital. Picture: Josh Woning.

‘Only two respirators’: Hospital not built for outbreak

PAROO Shire mayor Lindsay Godfrey has issued a sobering plea to visitors, as the region continues to up the ante in the fight against coronavirus spread.

The rural mayor has told visitors to stay home this year because the region's only hospital, Cunnamulla Hospital, will not cope if people bring COVID-19 to any of the towns.

Cr Godfrey said the hospital can treat locals, but visitors should not 'bunker down' in Cunnamulla or the surrounding towns to wait out the virus.

"The Cunnamulla Hospital only has two respirators for those who require assistance breathing, and that not only includes potential COVID-19 patients, but for those who have suffered a stroke, heart attack or even a car accident," he said.

"Paroo Shire is a small community, and as such it hasn't been built to support extra

people wishing to 'bunker down' here during the pandemic."

Normally the region would be gearing up to welcome thousands of tourists with open arms - local businesses usually thrive from April to October.

Having to turn tourists away now has been a difficult but necessary decision for the mayor.

"I am imploring travellers to sit tight and stay safe in their homes, and postpone their trip to the Paroo Shire until it is safe to travel again," Cr Godfrey said.

"This is a hard message to issue as our community, in particular our businesses, financially rely on the tourist season however we need to ensure our residents' health and safety is protected.

"The best place for anyone at the moment is at home, and to only travel for the

essentials - and that includes our residents too."

The Cunnamulla Fella Visitor Information Centre, which is run by Council, officially closed to the public; it is the latest council facility to be shuttered during the pandemic.

Last week, the shire got on the front foot by closing the pools, recreation facilities, and library.

The Council depot is now the only site remaining open, and while it is conducting all local business, non-essential meetings are being discouraged.