Clinical nurse Liz Ryan has gone from working on bushfire relief to being on the frontline of coronavirus screening.
Clinical nurse Liz Ryan has gone from working on bushfire relief to being on the frontline of coronavirus screening.

Test gets personal for nurse Liz

Clinical nurse Liz Ryan has screened more than 46,000 people for coronavirus at Sydney airport but the one that stands out is her daughter Kate.

Like many of the NSW frontline health heroes The Daily Telegraph is campaigning for, she has felt the impact of the coronavirus personally.

"I had been asking Kate to come home from Mexico and when she finally did I personally screened her at the airport. She had a cough so I sent her for the test," Ms Ryan said.

Even though Kate, 26, came back with a negative result for COVID-19 she has been self-isolating at the family home in Maroubra.

"It really brings home what this means for people," Ms Ryan, 53, said. She is one of two full time staff in the The South East Sydney Local Health District disaster management unit.

"We have done pandemic planning but we never anticipated something quite on this scale," she said.

Three months ago she was working on bush fire relief in the south coast. As the coronavirus crisis flared up she was sent to monitor and check people flying into Australia at Sydney airport.

It began with monitoring passengers on all flights from China and then expanded to cover people coming in from Iran, South Korea and Italy. Now it is everybody - although there are far fewer flights.

"It's been incredibly busy," Ms Ryan said. So far the team has checked 46,527 people of which 432 were sent for COVID-19 swab testing with 22 coming back with positive results.

The Daily Telegraph is campaigning for frontline health workers like Ms Ryan to be given benefits including free parking at hospitals during the crisis and free accommodation near hospitals for those who choose to isolate from their families.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard yesterday saluted their work. "The COVID-19 virus has made the world it's battlefield. It is now meeting our frontline health troops and already finding their skill and commitment formidable," he said.

"In both World Wars, people on the home front knitted socks and sent care packages. Today we all have to find ways to do the equivalent for these incredible people."

Originally published as Test gets personal for nurse Liz