By Jessica Anstice
A number of residents were shocked to see DHHS workers seemingly disregarding social distancing while door knocking around Pakenham last week.
After Pakenham was flagged as a hotspot suburb on Thursday 25 June, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) staff visited homes to encourage residents to get tested for coronavirus.
Silver Gums estate resident, Liberty Daniels, expressed her disappointment after a group of DHHS staff knocked on her front door without wearing masks or gloves.
“I have immune deficiency so my whole family, including my two children, have been in isolation for about five months,” she explained.
“The minute someone comes to my front door without a mask and who has been in contact with hundreds of people, it undoes an entire five months of us isolating.
“They’re trying to do a service to our community but they’re putting us in danger because the government isn’t providing them with the equipment they need to go door knocking in a hotspot – it’s utterly ridiculous and complete reversal to anyone who opens their door.”
After receiving a number of texts from DHHS about the potential visit, Ms Daniels stuck a sign on door that stated: ‘do no knock without wearing gloves’.
When she heard a knock at the front door, she immediately checked the security camera footage on her phone to see who it was.
“They told me they were there in relation to Covid-19 testing so I immediately asked if they were wearing masks and they said no,” she recalled.
“I asked them if they could put masks on and if they had read the sign on my door, then they told me they didn’t have any masks.
“I also asked them if they had sanitised their hands and they said they were only given one small bottle and it had run out.”
Another concerned Pakenham resident, Naomi Royce, said she observed no social distancing “at all” while she watched the DHHS staff knock on her neighbours’ doors.
Ms Royce said there were about six staff members standing together on the road she lives on – none were wearing masks or gloves.
“We are staying home to avoid germs and seeing them knocking on all doors is disturbing, considering we are trying to eliminate this virus and not spread it further,” Ms Royce said.
“I think being that they are working with the government, they should be focusing on helping not spread the virus by wearing personal protective equipment.
“We don’t know if they have Covid and they don’t know if anyone in our community is immunosuppressed.”
Silver Gums Estate resident, Amanda Torrington, said she knows of someone who placed signs on their front door informing visitors not to knock as they had sleeping babies.
The resident had also been isolating for an extended period of time and didn’t want to risk community transmission.
“Their people still knocked like they were trying to bang the door down,” Ms Torrington said.
“I think it’s dangerous. There is already so much scare mongering everywhere you look and now they’re having government workers knocking on doors without any safety measures in place – it goes against everything that the Victorian Government has been telling us.
“Without adhering to safety measures, specifically physical distancing, who’s to say they’re not spreading this virus from home to home in what could’ve been a perfectly clean neighbourhood.”
DHHS has been contacted for comment.