Welfare focus as ADF arrives in Illawarra for 'enormous' number of COVID compliance, welfare checks

A police officer is paired with an ADF member for a recent check at a COVID-affected household in the Illawarra. Picture: NSW Police
A police officer is paired with an ADF member for a recent check at a COVID-affected household in the Illawarra. Picture: NSW Police

COVID checks are creating an "enormous workload" for Illawarra police, with ADF personnel now deployed to help with hundreds of daily doorknocks as lockdown fails to stem the virus' march across the region.

Local active cases continue to climb and a handful of at-home deaths have been recorded in Sydney areas of concern.

The police checks are not only to ensure affected people are quarantining in line with public health orders, but to ensure welfare, said Wollongong Police District Commander, Superintendent Evan Quarmby.

Police checked in on every newly diagnosed person - 45 new names in the Illawarra on Wednesday - as well as their close contacts. For some, the checks continue daily for two weeks, when their name drops off the list. By then, more names have been added.

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On Wednesday six ADF personnel were each paired with a police officer for checks across the Wollongong Police District.

"It's an enormous workload for our officers, but part of our very clear priority is compliance in the community, and it's also important in terms of welfare. While it is a significant operation, it's just so, so important," Supt Quarmby told the Mercury.

"We understand the circumstances around COVID place a great deal of stress on individuals and families, both financially and welfare-wise, so we do have equally an eye on compliance, but also welfare.

"That comes down to making sure people have food and medical attention and making sure people have assistance from other government agencies.

"There's obviously been an increase in cases in the local area that prompted the police to really ramp up our checks. As those numbers continued to increase, we were allocated resources from the ADF."

ADF personnel have also been deployed to the Lake Illawarra Police District.

Supt Quarmby said police had arrived at some local addresses and found people in such bad health, officers called for an ambulance.

Statewide, COVID cases have become too abundant for everyone with the virus to be admitted to hospital for observation.

With most only suffering mild symptoms and thought able to recover at home, health authorities have been keeping in regular contact via phone calls and texts, noting of any changes in symptoms.

The vast majority of the state's 254 recorded deaths have occurred in hospital, but a small number of people have died at home.

On August 26 Chief Health NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant announced three unvaccinated men aged in their 30s, 60s, and 80s died in their Western Sydney homes the previous week after "deteriorating at home".

Mother-of-three Ianeta Isaako, 30, was also at home - in Emerton, in Sydney's west - when she succumbed to the virus several days later.

This story ADF lands in Illawarra for 'enormous' task of COVID checks first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.