Screening tents have been erected outside Albury Wodonga Health emergency departments, and space for more beds has been cleared to respond to COVID-19.
The first patient to be hospitalised on the Border due to the virus, one of three new cases and six in Albury overall, is in a stable condition.
AWH infectious diseases physician Justin Jackson said up until this week, the pandemic had seemed far away.
"Over this last week, we've had nine NSW residents who have attended our drive-through swabbing clinic return positive for coronavirus," he said.
"All the cases to date have been in returned overseas travellers, and I'm very pleased to say all of those people were adhering to the strict quarantine measures that were put in place.
"One of those patients was admitted to Albury Wodonga Health here yesterday evening.
"They're currently in a stable condition and receiving expert care.
"The pandemic has developed a personal face, a local face ... this might be the face of your friend, your loved one or your parent.
"If not this week, then it will come."
Dr Jackson said the community could "alter the trajectory of this pandemic" by not leaving the house unless absolutely necessary and following health advice.
"Fire cannot burn without fuel, and a pandemic cannot continue without contact," he said.
"Every time you enter another person's space, or the environment another person has been in, you add fuel to the fire, you connect the virus, one person to another.
"If you're unwell with respiratory symptoms, fever, and perhaps some of the symptoms that we don't tend to focus on - such as vomiting and diarrhea, and loss of smell, which has been seen in other places - then stay at home and call our coronavirus hotline."
Dr Jackson said the team at Albury Wodonga Health "has worked tirelessly over the last few months to prepare our health care facility".
"I've been extremely impressed and very proud to be part of the effort that's going on," he said.
"We'll continue to do everything humanly possible to prepare ... however, without your help, the help of the community, even with the best preparation, our resources will be completely overwhelmed."
Some of Albury Wodonga Health's rehabilitation beds have moved into the Murray Valley Private Hospital building in Wodonga to free up bed capacity.
"We are moving into a shared-care model with Ramsay Health around some of our rehabilitation patients," pandemic response director Sally Squire said.
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"We're very pleased that will free up some capacity for any anticipated patient flow that we may need to create."
Ms Squire said screening tents would also ensure people coming into the two emergency departments would be triaged before they enter into the department.
"It means we can see patients before they potentially enter into our department and have any other contact," she said.
"Again, this is one of the strategies we're putting into place around decreasing risk of transmission.
"I would like to reiterate, please call us ahead of time if you do believe you have any respiratory signs of cold or flu."
From Friday, changes were made around who could be tested under Victorian Health Department guidelines.
"We'll be increasing our screening rate," Ms Squire said.
"Of those people who we'll be calling in to our triage, we will see an increased screening from there.
"We have a case definition, which is really around the criteria for testing.
"We're finding that every couple of days .. we're seeing a slight change to the case definition as it comes out of the department, so our testing is responding in accordance with that."
COVID-19 Numbers to know:
Murrumbidgee Local Health District
- Call the free-call coronavirus hotline 1800 022 222 and receive advise on the best course of action depending on their symptoms and risks. Medical staff will direct people to the nearest hospital or respiratory clinic, or advise them to stay home
- Call the Murrumbidgee COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 831 099 for assessment (7.00 am - 11.00 pm)
Albury Wodonga Health
- You can also call the coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 675 398. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Contact your GP or Albury Wodonga Health on (02) 6058 4444 for assessment and testing.
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