Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Chatur Zala urges residents to be safe during the coronavirus crisis. (PHOTO: Cherbourg council)
Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Chatur Zala urges residents to be safe during the coronavirus crisis. (PHOTO: Cherbourg council)

‘Don’t come here’: Cherbourg at risk of virus outbreak

“IF YOU are coming from those hot spots, just don’t come here.”

Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Chatur Zala has one clear message when it comes to keeping his at-risk community safe from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We don’t want people coming from the COVID-19 hot spots,” he said.

“With the current situation I don’t want the virus to come into my community,”

Queensland Health recognised indigenous communities were at a greater risk of serious infection from the coronavirus.

Cherbourg is one of 17 Queensland indigenous communities, but the only one in close vicinity to hot spots like Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

“Most of them are remote, we were the only one in the southeast corner, but we are managing so well,” Mr Zala said.

The Queensland Government reported that ‘First Nations people are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to a higher incidence of chronic health conditions, including diabetes, renal disease and respiratory issues.’

“Additionally, the living arrangements and social connectedness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can make transmission more likely,” they reported.

There has been a limit put in place of two people per car to go through the checkpoint between Murgon and Cherbourg. (Photo: Cherbourg Council)
There has been a limit put in place of two people per car to go through the checkpoint between Murgon and Cherbourg. (Photo: Cherbourg Council)

The council and the Cherbourg Local Disaster Management Group started putting restrictions in place on March 13.

“It’s a complex situation, things are changing everyday,” he said.

“It’s strict, we’re not letting people come in from outside the South Burnett.”

Mr Zala said the Cherbourg community had managed well with the changes.

“I’m very confident we’ll be able to keep this virus out,” he said.

The two South Burnett coronavirus cases have now recovered and Mr Zala urged the South Burnett community to keep following the social distancing guidelines.

The council has put in many biosecurity measures such as limiting the movement of prisoners returning home to ensure the virus stays out.

A checkpoint has been set up on the Cherbourg-Murgon Rd to help assist with keeping the coronavirus out of the Aboriginal community.

Cherbourg residents are able to leave for important business like shopping and banking in Murgon for two hours only.

There can only be two people in a car and they need to show identification with their name on it to be allowed back into the community.

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