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Byron Shire
September 17, 2021

COVID traveller at Ballina Airport and North Coast sewage test results

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A stand of free Healthy North Coast’s reusable cloth face masks at Ballina/ Byron airport. Photo supplied.

A public health alert has been issued after a positive COVID-19 case travelled on the Virgin Australia flight VA1139 from Sydney, arriving in Ballina on 14 July at 11.45am. It is believed this person then travelled by private car to Queensland.

‘All passengers and cabin crew who were on this flight are considered as close contacts and must get tested and isolate for 14 days from the date of exposure, regardless of the result of the test. NSW Health has received the flight manifest and has contacted all passengers,’ said Lynne Weir, Acting Chief Executive Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD).

‘Others who were inside the Ballina airport terminal between 11.45am and 12 noon on Wednesday 14 July should get tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative result

Didn’t isolate

The traveller had been exposed to the virus at his workplace and was required to be tested and isolate until he had his test results. He took the test on 12 July then travelled from Sydney to Ballina on the Virgin flight and was driven to Brisbane breaching the isolate requirement.

‘Advice received by NSW Health indicates his positive test result was mistakenly reported to him by the private lab as a negative result after arriving in Queensland,’ said Ms Weir.

‘He was required to isolate while awaiting his test results. Following whole genome sequencing, which is routinely performed on all positive test results, NSW Health was alerted on 20 July that this person was in fact positive for COVID-19.

‘NSW Health is now concerned he was potentially infectious in the community in Sydney, on the flight to Ballina, in the airport terminal and in Queensland. NSW Health is working with Queensland Health to investigate this person’s movements and venues that he attended and take appropriate public health actions.

‘The matter has been referred to NSW Police.

‘This incident highlights the importance of following the public health advice and orders, particularly if you are identified as a close contact, and the risks that can arise if people breach the isolation rules put in place to protect the community and reduce the risk of further spread of COVID-19,’ she said.

Byron Shire Council’s Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant. Photo waterandcarbon.com.au

Byron tests negative

On July 22 sewage samples were collected and tested at the Kingscliff, Banora Point, Murwullimbah and Hastings Point sewage treatment plants which all came back negative.

Sewage tests were also conducted at the Ocean Shores, Byron Bay, Brunswick Valley and Bangalow treatment plants on July 23 which have all returned negative results. This follows a previous positive result for COVID-19 fragments at Byron Bay Sewerage Treatment Plant on Tuesday, 20 July, 2021.

‘NSW’s sewage surveillance plan is being reviewed daily in accordance with needs across the state. At present, the Byron Bay Treatment plant will be tested daily until further notice, while other North Coast sites will continue being tested weekly,’ said Ms Weir.

‘There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Northern NSW Local Health District, but we need to continue to be vigilant and get tested at the first sign of event the mildest of symptoms.’

Cars lining up waiting for the drive through COVID testing unit to open at the Cavanbah Centre in Byron Bay. Photo supplied.

There are more than 25 testing clinics across Northern NSW, including:

  • Byron Bay Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, 1 Byron Street, Byron Bay.
  • Byron Central Hospital, 54 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale
  • Ocean Shores Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, 84 Rajah Rd, Ocean Shores
  • Mullumbimby Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, 125 Daley Street, Mullumbimby
  • Lennox Head Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, Shop 4, 62 Ballina Street, Lennox Head.

An additional drive through clinic is also now open:

  • Byron Bay QML Pathology Drive-Through, Cavanbah Sports Ground, 249

Ewingsdale Rd, Byron Bay. Open until 4pm today. Open from 8am Saturday and Sunday.

A full list of clinic locations and opening hours are listed on the NSW government website at COVID-19 testing clinics.

A full list of COVID-19 testing clinic locations and opening hours are listed on the NSW government website at COVID-19 testing clinics.

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  1. Police should have been checking ID’s at Sydney Domstic Airport to prevent people from Greater Sydney from boarding any flight . They are still in lockdown


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