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September 23, 2021

Northern Rivers responds to cal for COVID-19 testing

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Councillors and members of parliament from across the region are calling for greater restrictions on who can come to the Northern Rivers and other vulnerable regional areas from COVID hotspots in NSW.

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

Following the flight of a COVID positive traveller from Sydney to Ballina and the detection of COVID fragments in the Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) both locals and visitors have responded to calls for more testing in the region.

Testing figures show there were 6,857 tests conducted among residents of Northern NSW Local Health District for the week of 18–24 July, almost a 50 per cent jump on the previous week when 4,575 tests were conducted.

‘Following advice over the weekend that a positive COVID-19 case had travelled on a flight from Sydney to Ballina, and recent detection of virus fragments in sewage in Byron Bay, we’ve seen a jump in people getting tested at local clinics,’ Lynne Weir, Acting Chief Executive, Northern NSW Local Health District said.

‘It’s promising to see our community responding to these calls, as it’s so important in the fight to find any cases which may be in our area.

‘So far, there have not been any new confirmed cases identified within our District,’ she said.

Test and isolate

The 45 passengers and additional crew members on flight VA1139 on 14 July, who were all identified as close contacts of the positive case, were contacted by NSW Health and advised to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of the initial test result.

Everyone is reminded the washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces are key elements to reducing transmission of the virus.

Daily sewage samples

Samples have been taken daily from sewage samples at the Byron STP following detection of CVOID viral fragments in the system on 20 July.

‘They have all returned negative results, as have the other testing sites across the District,’ said Ms Weir.

‘I encourage anyone who is feeling unwell to come forward for a COVID-19 test as soon as they develop symptoms. Testing and tracing are some of the best tools we have to manage the virus, and if there are cases which we don’t know about, that makes it difficult for our health teams to respond.

‘Please don’t wait to get a test, you can find testing clinics open any day of the week.’

Clinic locations and opening hours are listed on the NSW website at COVID-19 testing clinics. There are more than 400 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW.


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