State MP urges for calm amongst coronavirus panic
MEMBER for Ipswich Jennifer Howard has issued a message for her constituents after receiving multiple concerned calls surrounding the upcoming local government elections and the coronavirus pandemic.
She is urging residents not to panic and to plan ahead for the election process.
"There are two weeks of early voting across five sites beginning Monday 16 March, which may be preferable for those wishing to avoid crowds," She said.
"Otherwise, it is possible to apply for a postal vote - but the applications close on 16 March at 7pm."
Ipswich City Council said it will keep employees, residents and ratepayers at the forefront of all decision-making when it comes to the coronavirus.
"At the moment it is about ensuring people remain healthy - washing their hands, being respectful of others and understanding the environment around them," Ipswich City Council CEO David Farmer said.
"Queensland Health is the lead agency in this state and our key priority as a council is to protect employees and customers as this situation evolves. We are also intent on maintaining essential services.
"We expect more information to come from Queensland Health, and we'll be putting the people of Ipswich at the forefront of any decisions we make."
Council has set up a specialised working group which will focus on the following issues:
- Safety and health of all employees.
- Business continuity and how council continues to deliver essential services to the community.
- Keeping the community informed of updates.
- How to manage council-owned and managed events.
- Ways council can assist the community if COVID-19 escalates.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Queensland has risen to 35 this morning, including a woman who worked as cabin crew for Virgin Australia, with Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young saying she would provide further details later today.
Current advice to protect yourself from the coronavirus is to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene such as: cleaning hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs; covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing; avoiding contact with anyone who has symptoms such as fever, a cough, sore throat, fatigue, and shortness of breath; and staying home if you are unwell.
Visit the Queensland Health website for more information on the coronavirus.
Yesterday, an Ipswich Mayoral candidate called for the Electoral Commission of Queensland to allow those running to use their email systems to campaign electronically.
Elections to go ahead amid pandemic
The World Health Organisation officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic Thursday morning, classifying it as a wide-spread disease, after it had infected more than 120,000 people world-wide and killed more than 4,000 since it was first reported in Wuhan, China in December.
As fears around the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 continue to grow, the ECQ confirmed that the local government elections will not be postponed at this stage.
A spokesperson said ECQ will continue to monitor the situation and follow advice from the Queensland Chief Health Officer about how to take appropriate measures.
"The current advice provided by Queensland Health is that there is no need to cancel mass gatherings or events or take additional precautions to normal practice," the spokesperson said.
Fines for not voting will still apply if you do not have a valid reason to do so.
Those wishing to nominate for postal voting must register by 7pm March 16 by calling ECQ on 1300 881 665 or applying online.
As of Thursday, more than 200,000 people had registered for postal voting state-wide at this stage, with about 4000 of those being in Ipswich. These postal vote registration numbers are broadly aligned with those during other election events.
Follow more stories from Toni Benson-Rogan.