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Top doctor’s dire virus prediction for country WA residents

A leading doctor in Western Australia says country patients will die at a higher rate than those in the city when COVID-19 hits the state.
Australian Medical Association WA president Mark Duncan-Smith made the dire prediction for those living in regional areas ahead of the state borders reopening next year.

“Country patients will die at a higher rate than city patients when COVID-19 hits,” Dr Duncan-Smith said.

All regional WA hospitals, except one in Bunbury, south of Perth, are without intensive care units.
All regional WA hospitals, except one in Bunbury, south of Perth, are without intensive care units. (Supplied)

Vulnerable Indigenous communities, particularly in the state’s north-west, are of the greatest concern.

All regional hospitals except one in Bunbury, south of Perth, are without intensive care units.

“Intensive care units in Perth are in ‘bed state black’ most of the time,” Dr Duncan-Smith said.

Opposition leader Mia Davies said hospitals are “in crisis right across this state”.

Dr Duncan-Smith referenced the COVID-19 outbreak in Katherine, in the Northern Territory, to illustrate the urgency of the situation.

Katherine is just a five-hour drive to the WA town of Kununurra.

WA Premier Mark McGowan says higher regional vaccination rates is the only solution.
WA Premier Mark McGowan says higher regional vaccination rates is the only solution. (Supplied)

“The death rate would be in the hundreds” if an outbreak spread in the regions, Dr Duncan-Smith said.

“We currently have an outbreak in Katherine that is not far from Kununurra. We could easily see an outbreak in Kununurra in the next few days.”

Premier Mark McGowan did not deny the grim prediction.

“If we don’t get people vaccinated, large numbers of people will die,” he said, insisting speeding up regional vaccination rates was the only solution.

“I was in Headland and Karratha, I’ve been to Manjimup, Bunbury, all over the state encouraging people to get vaccinated.

Australian Medical Association WA's Mark Duncan-Smith issued the dire prediction for those living in the state's regional areas.
Australian Medical Association WA’s Mark Duncan-Smith issued the dire prediction for those living in the state’s regional areas. (Supplied)

“If they get vaccinated, they can avoid this problem.”

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