News Coronavirus COVID infections gaining ground in western NSW

COVID infections gaining ground in western NSW

NSW has stopped listing metro exposure sites.
Fearful Dubbo residents line up for COVID scans as the deadly virus continues to spread in NSW's far west. Photo: Getty
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Two more schools in Dubbo have been shut down following COVID-19 cases as more vaccines are shipped to western NSW, where health services are facing the “big challenge” of containing the virus.

Two more schools in Dubbo have been shut down following COVID-19 cases as more vaccines are shipped to western NSW

More infections are expected in the coming days.

Buninyong Public School closed on Friday after a student tested positive, a NSW Department of Education spokesperson confirmed, and the Dubbo School of Distance Education also closed after a member of the school community returned a positive test.

Emergency dash delivers vaccines

“All staff and students are asked to self-isolate until they receive further advice.”

Dubbo West Public School and Orana Heights Public School in the area have already been closed for cleaning following COVID-19 exposure earlier in the week.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday said an additional 8000 vaccines are being sent to Walgett in the state’s northwest, where about 80 per cent of the 6500 residents in the region are Aboriginal.

Mr Hazzard acknowledged the difficulties facing the Aboriginal medical service in Walgett as well as problems delivering adequate vaccine supplies.

He didn’t outline how many intensive care beds or ventilators were available to western NSW communities, should they be required.

“The ICU in a hospital in a place like that is nowhere near what we would expect in Sydney,” Mr Hazzard told reporters.

“That is why the entire NSW Health service is on high alert and is asking the community up there to definitely stay at home.”

One COVID-19 patient in western NSW is currently in intensive care, Western NSW local health district chief executive Scott McLachlan said.

Indigenous elders plead for help

The Dharriwaa Elders Group at Walgett had issued an urgent request on Thursday evening for more nurses to support Aboriginal Medical Services.

Mr Hazzard admitted those services were understaffed.

Fuelling concern is a combination of significant Indigenous populations, low vaccination rates and relatively poor health services.

A one-week lockdown began on Wednesday for the areas of Walgett, Dubbo, Bogan, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Gilgandra, Narromine and Warren.

NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale urged residents to stay home.

“Some of the cases are Aboriginal people, and we are conscious in that part of the state many of our Aboriginal communities often come from large families and do move around as part of cultural practice,” Dr Gale said.

In other parts of NSW, five new cases were on Friday reported in the Hunter New England area and two new cases on the Central Coast.

While there were no new cases recorded in the Tamworth, Armidale and Northern Rivers regions, they remain under lockdown.

NSW Health’s sewage surveillance has detected fragments of the virus in the systems of Tamworth, Bomaderry, Bathurst, Parkes and Bourke.

A case of COVID-19 was on Friday also reportedly uncovered at Bathurst Correctional Centre.

South Coast warning

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also put the NSW South Coast on alert due to its proximity to Canberra, locked down due to a growing number of cases.

“I know people are concerned about movements that occurred overnight from the ACT to parts of our South Coast, we have had concern from community leaders about that today,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.

It comes after a second man was on Friday charged with leaving Sydney and visiting Byron Bay, prompting a lockdown in NSW’s northern rivers region. The 19-year-old will face a NSW court in late September.

-with AAP