North East residents deserve to know whether or not someone in the community has tested positive to COVID-19.
In the scheme of 438 new coronavirus cases in Victoria, it might not seem like the location of each case really matters.
But to someone living in a town like Wodonga there is a world of difference between a Wodonga resident being diagnosed with coronavirus, and a Wodonga resident quarantining in Sydney testing positive.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Service's procedure of classing residents based on their address, not current location, does nothing but cause panic in COVID-free regions.
Earlier this month, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian referenced a single case of COVID-19 attributed to a Wodonga resident in the DHHS stats when asking residents to avoid the Border area.
The case was later removed from the Local Government Areas statistics without explanation but the damage was done.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Repeatedly the department has announced there is a new COVID-19 case in a Wodonga or Wangaratta resident, only to then refuse to clarify where these cases were diagnosed.
This leaves the media, but more importantly organisations like North East Health and Albury Wodonga Health scrambling to check their records, talk to GPs and answer the questions of panicked residents increasingly frustrated by the lack of clarity.
DHHS has repeatedly said it does not release this location information to protect patients' privacy, but authorities across the border don't have the same concerns.
NSW Health and Murrumbidgee Local Health District are both able to release clear information about the whereabouts of COVID-19 cases as well as their residential addresses. Last week, MLHD revealed a Junee resident currently isolating in Sydney had tested positive.
The clear message kept the small Riverina town from jumping into a panic.
The Department of Health and Human Services should look at their NSW counterparts and change their policies to prevent unnecessary panic.