COVID-19 communication criticised

RESTRICTIONS: Border restrictions have been restinstated, leaving cross border residents confused about the rules. PHOTO: FILE

RESTRICTIONS: Border restrictions have been restinstated, leaving cross border residents confused about the rules. PHOTO: FILE

Children under the age of 16 will be spared from having a COVID-19 test to cross the border, thanks to the local community group Cross Border Call Out spending their weekend advocating for cross border families.

As Victoria entered a strict lockdown last week and SA/Victoria border restrictions were reinstated, confusion reigned over what the rules were concerning teenagers and children.

Paula Gust said she spent the weekend on the phone, dealing with SA Health, SA Police and politicians, attempting to clarify the situation.

"On Friday night when they announced all this, they never put it out clearly with any social media announcements to everybody to say that there was a 70 km corridor again, and covid testing agan," she said.

"We were the first to put that out on Saturday morning, and then through that discovered that the clause for the under 16 exemption was not in the new direction.

"We spent a majority of the weekend going back and forth with SA Health, politicians, SAPOL and all of our contacts about how absurd it is to test those under 16.

"Up until yesterday, there was a parent who rang the COVID hotline twice, and although SA Health and SAPOL had been given the memo, the COVID hotline hadn't - There is no consistency in communication."

Under the direction, children under the age of 16 are not required to be tested unless they are showing symptoms.

She said that without the team's efforts, children would have been unnecessarily tested.

"How long would this confusion have gone on if we hadn't done this, and how many kids would be unnecessarily tested - it's like a form of torture, let's be honest," she said.

"It's hard enough for adults, but we'll cop it and we'll do it, but not the kids.

"I feel that if we hadn't stomped our feet and put an insane amount of pressure on the authorities to get this sorted, potentially kids could be going across with their parents and getting tested today."

However, Ms Gust said it was "absurd" that the public had to rely on her and her team to get the messages out.

"They should be getting their end sorted - I understand that it is a crazy situation over there, but a bit of preparation and a clear communication pathway between the hotline, SA Health and SAPOL, I think would help a lot of people."

The team has been working with the relevant parties in a bid to get the COVID-19 testing requirements dropped all together.

"We haven't taken the foot of the pedal, we are still lobbying to get the COVID testing scrapped for cross border community member,' Ms Gust said.

"I hope we are making headway - I've noticed they haven't set up the big drive through testing centre they used to have and I would like to think if this was going to continue, they would have set them up by now.

"So my fingers are crossed that that is a subtle indicator that there may be some change with the COVID testing."

This story COVID-19 communication criticised first appeared on Naracoorte Herald.