THE first COVID-19 case in Port Macquarie has been confirmed forcing a local high school into shut down.
St Columba Anglican School (SCAS) principal Terry Muldoon issued a statement to staff and families on March 19 confirming that a member of the school community had tested positive to the virus.
"We have been informed by NSW Health that one SCAS community member has tested positive to COVID-19 (coronavirus)," Mr Muldoon said.
"In the interests of student and staff safety, the school will be closed tomorrow (Friday, March 20)."
Mr Muldoon instructed that all students were to remain at home and families will be kept up to date with developments, the length of the school's closure and when it is likely to re-open.
Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre will remain open.
Mr Muldoon said the school will liaise with relevant agencies and provide the school community with information as it evolves.
Mr Muldoon confirmed to the Port News he will meet directly with NSW Health on Friday to determine a strategy moving forward and what that will mean for students and staff at the school.
He could not elaborate on any further detail but said the school community will be kept informed every step of the way.
The Port News contacted NSW Health to determine what the next steps will be in the management of this case.
The NSW Health spokesperson said a standard procedure will now be followed with the person, and those who have been in close contact with them, to self-isolate.
The person will be interviewed about where they have been and who they have been in close or casual contact with and how widespread that contact might be, the spokesperson confirmed.
The school has taken immediate action by shutting down and will receive advice from the Department of Education about the next steps.
The case comes after NSW Health announced today (March 19) that Port Macquarie Base Hospital will be the location for a COVID-19 testing clinic.
Chief executive Mid North Coast Local Health District Stewart Dowrick says the clinic is part of the district's ongoing response to COVID-19.
"The Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) is establishing an acute respiratory clinic, COVID-19 clinics," he said.
"They will screen people with risk factors for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as influenza as we approach the winter season.
"The clinics are part of the district's ongoing response to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
"Information will be provided to the community once these clinics are operational, including their locations and how to contact them."
Australia has now closed its borders to anyone who is not a citizen, a permanent resident or their immediate family, taking decisive action as coronavirus numbers passed 600.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the ban on non-Australians on Thursday, to take effect at 9pm on Friday, allowing people who are already in the air to land.
Australia has progressively shut down its borders, banning people first from China, then Iraq, South Korea and Italy.
On Sunday, it imposed a compulsory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in Australia, including citizens. Now, citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members will be allowed in with the self-isolation period, but everyone else is banned.
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