AHS workers in isolation

A Victorian pharmacy has asked patients to be kind – and vigilant – after a staff member tested positive to COVID-19 despite significant precautions

AHS Tatura Pharmacy in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria has confirmed on social media that a pharmacy employee has tested positive to the novel coronavirus.

“The said employee was last in store on Friday of last week (7th), however they had worked the previous three days also. Thus Contract tracing is currently underway for the period of August 4-7,” the pharmacy wrote on Facebook.

“The store is being professionally deep cleaned this evening. In addition, all staff who worked on these days have also been tested and are currently in isolation at their homes awaiting results.”

The pharmacy stressed that the infected staff member had been wearing personal protective equipment in accordance with COVID-19 procedures.

The worker “had taken all hygiene practices in line with the national guidelines on infection control, had minimal contact with the public during these shifts and based on our policy of not allowing customers waiting in store for prescriptions, we can confirm that no customer is deemed a ‘close contact’ according to DHHS advice due to periods of under 15 minutes in store,” AHS Tatura wrote.

The pharmacy had asked patients not to wait in the store, and encouraged them to use its home delivery service “to avoid having anyone in store for any length of time”.

It also made sure to “clean benches, eftpos machines, entryways and have sanitiser at each entry and counter, so close contact is very minimal for any customers”.

“However, we encourage anyone who may develop symptoms, no matter how mild, or if you feel unwell to please get tested and isolate.

“This virus does not discriminate, you may think you are safe, but please think of others around you who may be vulnerable.

“As you can appreciate this is a highly sensitive matter. While we are providing you with updates as we can, we would appreciate any questions to be directed to messenger rather than any rumours circulating.

“We are committed to being transparent and honest throughout this process and will continue to post updates as required.”

On Tuesday AHS Tatura announced that it was closed for deep cleaning by professional cleaners and would reopen Wednesday with approval from relevant authorities, with limited access, a locum pharmacist and a skeleton staff who had not been in contact with any of the team members who were currently isolating, including the affected staff member.

It asked customers to be patient and outlined the ways in which it was able to provide continued access to medicines, including unaffected regular delivery of Webster packs and delivery for Tatura township only.

The pharmacy also paid tribute to its staff.

“Our staff are doing an amazing job and the ones covering us who can’t be there, deserve our upmost respect!! Treat them kindly and be understanding if they are busy!

“Any aggressive or abusive behaviour will not be tolerated and you will be asked to leave.

“Please be kind! We are all in this together and we are always here to help our wonderful community!!”

A number of patients offered the staff their best wishes.

“Well done guys,” wrote one patient. “You are doing everything you can to be honest informative and keep Tatura operating. We all really appreciate all you have done. Fingers crossed for staff that are isolating and positive case a speedy recovery xo.”

“Thinking of you all ❤️,” wrote another. “You’ve all worked so tirelessly to serve the community during this time and done such an exceptional job. Please take care x”

Some quoted comments have been edited for clarity.

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