Western Queenslanders are urged to maintain social distancing and avoid the time-honoured bush convention of shaking hands, as concerns grow over the explosion of COVID-19 cases in southern states.
The Western Queensland Primary Health Network is reporting a rise in outback residents attending respiratory clinics for a COVID-19 test, but warns the best weapon against the virus remains heeding health advice about avoiding unnecessary contact.
"It's a bit like asking a Western Queenslander to reconfigure their DNA by asking us not to shake hands, it's an instinctive habit that is very hard to change," WQPHN CEO Stuart Gordon.
"But given what's happening down south, we have to remain vigilant in the West, so we need to find other ways to say g'day to each other that doesn't increase our risk of spreading the virus.
"While we're all getting used to bumping elbows and feet, we can still look each other in the eye when we meet, and we can still give each other a wave as we pass on the highway."
Mr Gordon said it was everyone's business to stop the spread of the virus.
The WQPHN has distributed more than 30,000 items of personal protective equipment to GPs, pharmacies and Allied Health agencies in Western Queensland, where five respiratory clinics are currently operating to safely manage patients who present with flu-like symptoms.
To find a respiratory clinic in your region - click here
Training and education have also been central to the WQPHN's activities in coronavirus preparedness, including infection-control training for Aged Care providers.
"We have some very vulnerable populations in our patch, including elderly people and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who are all very keenly watching these outbreaks in Victoria and New South Wales," Mr Gordon said.
While you are here, subscribe to our weekly email delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Friday.