This is without doubt, an unprecedented and difficult time for us all. Not in living memory, has an infectious disease spread so rapidly to affect people across the world, including from the largest cities to the most remote communities.

At Menzies, we are all working hard to ensure that the impact of COVID-19 is limited as much as possible. This includes ensuring our staff and students remain safe and healthy, the well-being of our project participants and partners is protected and that the vital work we have undertaken for more than 35 years can continue.

We are actively supporting the Northern Territory, Queensland and Timor-Leste governments in their responses to COVID-19. This includes providing high-level strategic advice, training, enhancing testing and guidance on infection control and patient care.

Many of our researchers hold joint positions at the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH). These staff members are increasing their clinical workloads at the hospital in response to the increased demand on health services. Our lab staff are ready to support the Department of Pathology at RDH with the testing program and we are developing guidelines to assist in the management of COVID-19 patients with chronic diseases.

As we start to emerge from this first wave of infections in Australia, we know it is critical that we remain vigilant and prepare for future impacts.

This preparation can take different forms. As an institution, we are reassessing how we continue to conduct our research programs and are working to adapt our projects to accommodate travel restrictions and other measures introduced to protect our communities. We are also looking at how we can better support and inform these communities about the risks of COVID-19. This has included developing COVID-19 health messages in Aboriginal languages and other targeted resources for people with chronic conditions.

Yes, these are challenging and uncertain times. However, we will get through this together. We have developed this dedicated COVID-19 webpage to provide our community with information and news about Menzies’ response to COVID-19 and how you can help support us to continue our work to improve the health of all people across northern Australia and the region.

Professor Alan Cass
Director, Menzies School of Health Research