• Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians has urged remote communities to consider cutting off access to stop the coronavirus spread.
Rangi Hirini

18 Mar 2020 - 11:19 PM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2020 - 11:20 PM

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt has said more caution is needed in remote areas and has sent a strong message of hygiene and prevention to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Minister Wyatt said he and the government are working hard to ensure Aboriginal communities are not impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Every one of us are a living history book, when we lose a living history book particularly one of our Elders we cant replace them, so let's protect them,” Mr Wyatt told NITV News.

“Lets use the resources that government is going to be putting into programs,” he said. 

Mr Wyatt has also urged welfare recipients to "think of their family" when spending their one-off $750 stimulus payment 

“What we want you to do to is spend it on the things that are absolutely critical for your daily life in community and if you can spend it locally because it keeps your community store strong and it keeps local businesses strong,” he said.

The payment is for welfare recipients only and will be made on March 31. The government hopes to have 90 per cent of the payments made by April. 

The Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has a working group providing him information on the best strategies for Indigenous communities. 

The top priorities include encouraging remote communities to restrict the number of visitors to essential services, providing support to health services, and providing information in language to Indigenous people. 

The Commonwealth Government will be working on ensuring accurate information is being delivered to communities and will also deliver messages in language through Indigenous radio and TV stations.

Minister Wyatt said official government messages will come from the Prime Minister, health minister and chief medical officers.

“We’re going to be reading things on Facebook or social media that are inaccurate. Make sure its an official message from those levels of government because that’s where you’d get the right messaging,” he said.

'Peak' of COVID-19 yet to come Indigenous doctor warns
The peak of the COVID-19 virus may be yet to come according to a leading Indigenous doctor, who says he is particularly concerned about risks to Indigenous people in rural and remote communities.

As of Tuesday afternoon, only people who have recently travelled from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and experienced symptoms within 14 days are advised to be tested.
If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.