Portland hospital CEO says social media shaming endangering community health

Social media shaming aids virus spread

SOCIAL media shaming is stopping people from getting COVID-19 tested, says a hospital chief executive after outrage from the public at a positive test in Portland on Victoria's south west coast.

News of a Melbourne visitor testing positive to COVID-19 in Portland on Wednesday was met with anger from social media users, who posted comments such as "fine them" and "stay in your own yards".

Portland District Health chief executive Chris Giles said the woman who returned the positive test was in town for a legitimate reason that fell within the four rules to leave the hotspot areas.

She said online vitriol was "counterproductive" to the health and safety of the community.

"I understand everyone is concerned, everyone is fearful, but people are feeling the weight of the community trying to find someone to blame. It's counterproductive because people with symptoms instead of coming forward are hiding away hoping it will go away," she said.

"If other people who are feeling unwell don't get tested because they see the amount of villification going on it's not helpful. I know everyone is fearful and no-one wants it but this is the chance of locking it down, but it won't happen with all this going on."

Ms Giles said of the more than 2600 tests conducted in Portland not a single positive case has been found.

She asked that people wait to be contacted with their results after being tested.

"Portland hasn't seen any community transmission at all, that shows people are doing the right thing."

Coronavirus testing demand has remained strong over the week.

South West Healthcare has screened another 391 people for coronavirus, taking the total screenings to 5725. All of those were showing symptoms of the virus.

Moyne Health screened a further 65 people.

There were 170 tests carried out at Warrnambool's private Great South Coast Respiratory Clinic on Lava Street.

Reaction to The Standard's reporting of the Portland case was met with strong responses:

  • "Please for all our sakes stay home" - Pauline Colbert
  • "Shouldn't have been in the region in the first place!" - Tracey LIsson Monigatti
  • "What is wrong with people. Bloody stay home." - Marlene Tait
  • "Can't believe the selfish stupidity of some people." - Sharyn Merritt
This story Social media shaming aids virus spread first appeared on The Standard.