08 January 2020
Communities are again being reminded to take extra care of their health while smoke continues to impact several areas in NSW during the bushfire emergency. 

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW Health has issued 15 health warnings since the start of the bushfire emergency and is distributing 1 million P2 masks to bushfire zones.

“To best avoid smoke, stay indoors with windows and doors closed and not undertake outdoor exercise,” Dr Chant said.

“As part of the recovery, NSW Health is supporting bushfire-affected communities with a range of health and mental services on the ground for people returning home or still in evacuation centres.

“We are providing additional staff and resources to support our rural and regional areas and provide advice and pathways to care for those in their local community who need specialist assistance.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said people impacted by the bushfire tragedy can reach out to their existing health providers and additional supports on the ground.

“I urge anyone who feels they need help to contact their GP or NSW Health staff on the ground to bushfire zones.”

Dr Chant said other measures put in place include a temporary special authority to allow pharmacists to supply increased quantities of prescription medicines where people are without their medicine or can’t get to their GP.

Hospitals continued to operate extremely well, despite an increase in emergency presentations for asthma and breathing problems to 1,115, compared with the five-year average of 829, during December 30 to January 5.

When returning home people are reminded to:
  • wear protective clothing, including sturdy footwear, heavy-duty work gloves, disposable coveralls and P2/N95 face masks;
  • throw out all fire-damaged or heat-affected food;  
  • do not drink or give animals water that tastes, looks or smells unusual; and 
  • do not spread or disturb ash around your property, particularly if treated timber was burnt in the fire.
Short-term exposure to bushfire smoke or poor air quality are not known to have any long-term health effects and there is evidence to suggest that even after long-term exposure for many years, people’s health improves when their exposure is reduced. 

Call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444 for practical assistance.