Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) is urging locals with even the mildest of symptoms to get tested for COVID-19 following the detection of virus fragments in sewage samples taken from the West Kempsey sewage treatment plant on August 31 and September 2.
There are no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 anywhere in the Mid North Coast Local Health District.
The West Kempsey sewage treatment plant serves around 5,900 residents of the sewered areas north of the Macleay River including areas in and around Kempsey, West Kempsey, Greenhill, Yarravel and Aldavilla in the Kempsey local government area.
This latest detection also follows positive sewage samples reported from Port Macquarie, Dunbogan and Bonny Hills earlier this week. Further testing has been undertaken at those three sites and all have returned negative results as of September 3.
The sewage sampling producing positive virus results across the entire Port Macquarie-Hastings, and now into Kempsey, is a serious concern and a red flag for potential cases in the region.
"Detection of virus fragments in sewage can help provide early warning of undetected infections in an area but can also be due to shedding of the virus by someone who may have previously had the illness and may no longer be infectious," MNCLHD chief executive Stewart Dowrick said.
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.
Usual sewage treatment processes inactivate, or kill, the COVID-19 virus.
Vaccinated people WILL NOT produce positive sewage samples either as there is no virus in the vaccine.
A list of the latest sewage detections in NSW is available at www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/nsw-covid-19-case-locations/sewage-testing and more information about the NSW Sewage Surveillance Program you can be found at www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/sewage-surveillance.aspx
"We strongly encourage people in the area to remain vigilant and get tested for even the mildest of symptoms," Mr Dowrick said.
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.
Anyone feeling unwell should immediately get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative result, so that any potential cases in the community are identified as quickly as possible.
There are COVID-19 testing clinics located across the Mid North Coast LHD at Kempsey, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Macksville, Nambucca Heads, Port Macquarie, Lake Cathie, South West Rocks, Wauchope and Woolgoolga.
Drive through test clinics are open at Lake Cathie sports fields, Port Macquarie Regional Stadium and Wauchope Showground.
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 are more than 475 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week.
MNCLHD is also encouraging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves against COVID-19. There are more than 100 NSW vaccination clinics and outreach locations across the state.
It's been another day of record COVID-19 cases in NSW with 1533 new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8pm last night and four deaths.
The four deaths were:
There are currently 1041 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 173 people in intensive care, 62 of whom require ventilation.
Of those in ICU, 137 are not vaccinated, 29 have had one dose and seven have had two doses, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
There have been 123 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since June 16 and 179 in total since the start of the pandemic.
There have been 26,517 locally acquired cases reported since June 16 when the first case in this outbreak was reported.
Of the 1533 locally acquired cases, they were recorded in these local health districts (LHDs):
NSW Health's sewage surveillance program has detected fragments of the virus at sewage treatment plants in Tamworth, Glen Innes and Port Stephens in Hunter New England LHD; Cooma in Southern NSW LHD, and Kempsey in Mid North Coast LHD.
There were 131,174 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day's total of 154,654.
NSW Health administered 49,779 COVID-19 vaccines in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, including 10,501 at the vaccination centre at Sydney Olympic Park and 10,616 at the vaccination centre at Qudos Bank Arena.
The total number of vaccines administered in NSW is now 7,352,370 with 2,750,897 doses administered by NSW Health to 8pm last night and 4,601,473 administered by the GP network and other providers to 11:59pm on Thursday 2 September 2021.
Mr Hazzard said 72 per cent of people aged over 16 have received one dose in NSW.
"Just shy of 40 per cent are fully vaccinated and I want to thank the community more broadly across NSW for getting out and being part of what is a great journey to beat the virus, to get vaccinated, it's the way forward," Mr Hazzard said.
"Tomorrow we're going to have a super vaccination blitz for police, fire and emergency services personnel who live in those 12 LGAs of concern, obviously, we are very concerned as a government and as NSW Health to make sure that we have all of our frontline workers vaccinated."
NSW Health Executive Director COVID-19 Public Health Response Branch Dr Jeremy McAnulty said the virus was infecting people of all ages and genders.
"It is important that people realise, particularly young people who may think they are invulnerable to COVID - they are not.
"We are seeing people in their 20s and 30s in intensive care, requiring ventilation from time to time.
"It is a serious disease and that is why immunisation is just so important."
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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