Coronavirus clinics across Sydney have been flooded with people after authorities urged more than 40,000 NSW residents to get tested for the virus.
Queues formed early on Thursday across the north-west and grew throughout the morning after NSW Health called for more than 18,500 residents in suburbs such as North Kellyville, Rouse Hill, Box Hill, The Ponds, Kellyville Ridge, Parklea, Quakers Hill and Acacia Gardens to get tested after virus fragments were found in sewage at two local wastewater stations.
The alert was expanded on Thursday to include 25,000 people in and around the Southern Tablelands towns of Bowral and Moss Vale after viral fragments were found in their sewage pumping stations.
“There have been recent cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Moss Vale, but there has not been a case reported recently in Bowral,” NSW Health said.
One of the busiest clinics was a pop-up centre set up in the carpark of The Fiddler, a popular pub in Rouse Hill. There were lengthy lines of cars on Thursday as locals answered the call for testing.
NSW reported its fourth day without community-acquired coronavirus infections on Thursday. There were five more cases in people in hotel quarantine.
Further south, Victoria notched up a baker’s dozen of virus-free days on Thursday, posting its 13th day without new cases or fatalities.
There are now just three active cases in Victoria, and just one with an unknown source.
There were 20,819 tests in the past 24 hours and rolling statewide case average is just 0.1
As the state edges closer to a fortnight free of new infections, Melbourne has two hotspot alerts after an aged-care worker who flew to Adelaide tested positive for COVID-19.
State Health Minister Martin Foley said the woman, in her 20s, was suspected of viral shedding.
She visited Melbourne Central before departing from Melbourne Airport on Monday.
Her infection is thought to be an old one, after she contracted and was cleared of the coronavirus in August.
However, she is being treated as infectious by health authorities while in hotel quarantine in South Australia.
Anyone who visited Melbourne Central last Sunday between 2pm and 5pm, or were at Melbourne Airport’s Terminal Four from noon to 1pm on Monday, are asked to get tested if symptoms develop.
Another two positive cases in Victoria are also likely to be viral shedding, but all three remain under investigation.
Testing has also increased in NSW, after several weeks where authorities said they were concerned about low numbers. Thursday’s data came from 23,236 tests to 8pm on Wednesday, after just over 20,000 in the previous 24-hour period.
“NSW would like to thank the community for these increased numbers,” NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty said.
NSW is also ramping up checks on venues that fail to abide by COVID-safe regulations.
Almost 100 breaches were detected last Friday in the COVID hotspot of south-west Sydney.
Of 74 hospitality venues inspected, 13 were not registered as COVID Safe, 39 had no safety plan, 20 had issues with record keeping, seven were not properly adhering to social distancing, two had hygiene issues and 13 had no COVID-19 safety marshal.
Inspectors were also out and about at pubs and clubs screening the second State of Origin rugby league game on Wednesday night, checking for COVID compliance.
Liquor & Gaming’s Dimitri Argeres announced the safety blitz after condemning “a complete disregard for social distancing” at Odyssey Bar Restaurant in Sydney’s inner west in October, which resulted in two $5000 fines for the venue.
Thousands of businesses across the state have been put on notice they have less than two weeks to electronically register their customers’ details.
Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said QR codes will be mandatory from November 23, warning any business without the digital system will be fined.
“We can’t respond to a pandemic with paper. We must be fast and precise, and digital is the best way forward. There are no excuses,” he said on Wednesday.
“We have to move away from the walk-in culture to the check-in culture.”
Two new cases in NZ
For the first time in three months, New Zealand is grappling with a COVID-19 case without a clear link to its border regime.
A student at Auckland University of Technology, who works and resides in the Auckland CBD, has returned a positive test for the deadly virus, prompting health authorities into urgent contact tracing.
New Zealand recorded a second community case on Thursday in Wellington, an already-isolating close contact of a defence force worker with links to a quarantine facility.