SEWAGE surveillance has today (September 3) identified COVID virus fragments at the Wauchope wastewater treatment plant.
NSW has recorded its darkest day since the current outbreak began in June with 1431 cases and 12 deaths across the state.
The Mid North Coast Local Health District is urging anyone with the mildest of symptoms to come forward for testing immediately.
There have been no new cases of COVID on the Mid North Coast in the last 14 days since two cases were diagnosed last month in South Kempsey.
This latest detection follows positive sewage samples reported from Port Macquarie, Dunbogan and Bonny Hills earlier this week. Further testing has been undertaken at those sites and all have returned negative results today (3 September).
However, the sewage sampling producing positive virus results across the entire Port Macquarie-Hastings is a serious concern and a red flag for potential cases in the region.
MNCLHD chief executive Stewart Dowrick said it could suggest there are people in the communities of the Mid North Coast, particularly Port Macquarie, Laurieton, Camden Haven and Wauchope areas who may have COVID and have not yet been tested.
Detection of virus fragments in sewage can also be due to shedding of the virus by someone who may have previously had the illness and may no longer be infectious. It can also be the result of a person with COVID-19 who may have visited the community and has since left the area.
As well as being present in stools, viral fragments can enter the sewer when washed off hands and bodies through sinks and showers.
Vaccinated people will not produce positive sewage samples either as there is no virus in the vaccine.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include a runny nose, scratchy or sore throat, cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache, tiredness, loss of taste or smell, nausea, diarrhoea or muscle aches.
MNCLHD has opened a drive through testing clinic at Lake Cathie in a bid to test as many people in the regions south of Port Macquarie as quickly as possible. From today (September 3), the testing clinic will be open daily from 8am.
A drive-through clinic will also open at Wauchope Showground at 1pm today (Friday). It will be open from 8am to 4pm this weekend.
The testing station at Port Macquarie's regional stadium off Boundary Street is also open.
The Port Macquarie sewage treatment plant serves around 54,000 residents of Port Macquarie, Sovereign Hills, Thrumster, Sancrox, North Shore and Settlement Point in the Port Macquarie-Hastings local government area.
The Wauchope sewage treatment plant serves around 8,000 residents in Wauchope, Crosslands, Beechwood and Timbertown
The Bonny Hills sewage treatment plant serves around 7,000 residents of Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills.
The Dunbogan sewage treatment plant serves around 8,500 residents of Dunbogan, Laurieton, Lakewood, West Haven, Camden Head and North Haven.
The turn-around time for sewage testing is usually two to three days, Mr Dowrick said, but samples will be taken daily. Sewage testing has expanded across the region to Bellingen and Kempsey.
There are COVID-19 testing clinics located across the Mid North Coast LHD at Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Macksville, Nambucca Heads, Port Macquarie, South West Rocks, Wauchope and Woolgoolga.
A full list of clinic locations and opening hours are listed on the NSW government website at: www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others/clinics.
There have been 119 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since 16 June 2021, and 175 in total since the start of the pandemic. More than 25,000 cases have emerged since then.
There are currently 979 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 160 people in intensive care, 63 of whom are on ventilators.
In Western NSW Local Health District, Dubbo recorded another 31 cases and 11 in Bourke.
There were seven more cases in Wilcannia.
In the Hunter-New England, there were 11 cases with four at Port Stephens, two at Lake Macquarie, two in Newcastle, one in Maitland, one in the Upper Hunter and one in Armidale.
There were eight more cases on the Central Coast.
More than seven million vaccines have been administered in NSW, and with more than 827,000 people coming forward for vaccination during the week it is expected the 70 per cent of the state will be fully-vaccinated by mid-October.
"The next fortnight is likely to be our worst in terms of the number of cases," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
"But as I have said it is not the number of cases we need to be focusing on but how many of those cases and up in our intensive care wards and hospitals and how many people we have vaccinated as quickly (as we can)."
Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) has advised that the drive through COVID-19 testing clinic at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium on Boundary Street is now open extended hours from 8am to 6pm daily.
There is also a drive through testing site at Kempsey's Riverside Park reserve at the Austral Street boat ramp open to 8am-6pm weekdays and 8am-4pm on weekends.
MNCLHD urges anyone feeling unwell with even with the mildest of symptoms to come forward for testing.
To find a testing clinic near you, visit the NSW Government website www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/health-and-wellbeing/clinics
The Mid North Coast Local Health District is vaccinating its staff and eligible members of the community when appointments become available.
The local health district has moved its COVID-19 vaccination clinic from Port Macquarie Base Hospital to 35 Grant Street.
Go to the online COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to find out when and where you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
You can also speak with your local participating pharmacist or GP about the vaccine that is right for you.
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