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Byron Shire
December 8, 2022

COVID positive sewage detections at Lennox Head and Ballina

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After fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 were detected at Lennox Head and Ballina sewage treatment plants, Northern NSW Local Health District is urging people with even the mildest of symptoms to get tested.

Acting Chief Executive Ms Lynne Weir said while no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported among residents of the District, these detections indicated the virus could be circulating in the area.

‘It remains very important that anyone who has any symptoms or is a close or casual contact of a person with COVID-19, isolates and is tested immediately,’ she said

‘Testing and contact tracing are amongst the most effective tools for controlling spread of the virus.

‘When testing clinics are busy, please ensure you stay in line, identify yourself to staff and tell them that you have symptoms or are a contact of a case.’

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.

Positive detections were found in samples from 12 August at the Lennox Head sewage treatment plant, which serves about 7,700 people, and the Ballina plant, which serves about 31,100 people.

Hospital visitor restrictions tightened

To protect patients and staff, visitor restrictions are being tightened at all health facilities across the Northern NSW Local Health District.

‘Visitors are not permitted at facilities across the District unless they receive an exemption from the health facility,’ said Ms Weir.

‘An example of an exemption would be for compassionate reasons related to a patient receiving end-of-life care. Any visitors who receive an exemption will need to comply with the entry and screening requirements, including checking in with QR codes and wearing a mask.

‘Women accessing birthing services can nominate one support person during labour, birth and post-delivery, without requiring an exemption.’

Ms Weir also reminded people to follow the stay-at-home orders that now apply across NSW. ‘Everyone must stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse to leave. They also cannot have visitors in their home from outside their household, including family and friends. For detailed information, visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules.

There are more than 440 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week.

To find your nearest clinic visit: www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/how-to-protectyourselfand-others/clinics or contact your GP.

NNSWLHD is also urging people to check the Commonwealth Government’s https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covid-19-vaccine-eligibilitychecker and, if eligible, to book an appointment for a vaccination as soon as possible.


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