Rural doctors are calling on grey nomads across Australia to return home or, better yet, stay home if they are still there, to protect themselves and rural Australia.
Grey nomads make a large proportion of the tourism business of each dry season in Katherine.
Rural Doctors Association of Australia president Dr John Hall said reports of grey nomads still roaming throughout the bush were disturbing.
"We have had reports of convoys of grey nomads moving out into rural communities and quite frankly, that's not acceptable," Dr Hall said.
"We can only assume that they see this as a way of keeping themselves safe, but we can assure them it is absolutely not the way to go about it.
"This is not a grey area. They are putting themselves in harm's way by moving and circulating in the community, and that is not how you socially isolate, people!
"They are exposing other communities, as well as other travelers within the Grey Nomad community, by potentially circulating the virus.
"They are draining the local resources when it comes to both medical supplies and groceries. Many rural towns are finding it hard enough to resupply, without an influx of travellers adding to the burden," Dr Hall said.
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"And most importantly, they will be potentially putting a significant strain on rural hospitals and workforces that will already be at capacity with the surge of patients we are expecting due to COVID-19."
Many rural hospitals have limited supplies of breathing machines, critical care equipment and staff, as well as limited access to air retrieval services to move COVID-19 patients to regional intensive care units.
"Travelers are actually putting themselves at risk in rural areas, because they might find themselves in a country hospital that is already at capacity and may find they are not able to access the essential care needed if they become seriously unwell," Dr Hall said.
"So we say again... go home grey nomads.
"In normal circumstances, we love having you visit our rural and remote towns.
"But right now? Park your RV or caravan in your backyard, turn off the air-con, let in the flies, and use your imagination to live the dream."
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