Federal Nationals Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton is urging Australians to keep their health in check during the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to seek medical treatment and care.

Chairing the fifth special rural health COVID-19 roundtable with key rural and indigenous health stakeholders, Mr Coulton heard reports of people delaying accessing essential health care and treatment as a result of the pandemic.

“Coronavirus is challenging for society however it mustn’t supersede the need for us all to manage our health,” Mr Coulton said.

“The idea regional Australians who need continued medical support are not accessing it during this period is certainly very concerning.

“That’s why Medicare-subsided telehealth has been expanded for all Australians; making it easier for people to keep in contact with the medical support they need to manage their health.

“Regional Australians are doing a great job of stopping the spread and COVID-19 positive case numbers remain low, therefore it’s perfectly acceptable they seek face-to-face support from local health services.

“I encourage people to contact their local clinic to ensure it is still offering in-person appointments.

“Patients will be left in no doubt of any additional measures enacted to keep all patients safe.”

Mr Coulton said regular COVID-19 roundtable meetings with rural health stakeholders are an important forum ensuring communities are prepared for potential outbreaks in regional areas.

“Regular discussion with more than 20 rural health stakeholders is extremely valuable in ensuring our response is flexible and recognises the unique challenges rural and remote Australians face when accessing health care,” Mr Coulton said.

“Regional people and communities must remain vigilant as we see the number of cases decline and continue to practice good hygiene and social distancing.”

“In order to suppress the virus we’re increasing testing and tracing and I encourage all regional Australians to download the COVIDSafe app – a critical tool to pave the way for eased restrictions.”

Mr Coulton said the Nationals in Government had also set up rural GP-led respiratory clinics and boosted retrieval services across Australia to further suppress the spread of COVID-19 in rural areas.

“All these measures work together to ensure regional Australians keep good health through this pandemic and enables them to access the health support they need,” Mr Coulton said.