A DRIVE-through testing clinic will be set up at Kempsey's Riverside Park tomorrow in response to confirmation a 14-year-old girl has tested positive to COVID-19.
It is the first COVID case recorded on the Mid North Coast in 478 days. The region has so far been virus-free, despite growing case numbers in Greater Sydney, Newcastle and the New England and North Coast.
Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNLCHD) chief executive Stewart Dowrick said contact tracers are now working at pace to determine who the girl has been in contact with, and where, between her trip home from Newcastle to Kempsey on Friday, August 13.
She did not have any symptoms, but returned home from Newcastle after visiting family.
Mr Dowrick said he did not know the circumstances around why the girl was in Newcastle, other than to see family.
The teen undertook a COVID-19 test on Sunday, self-isolated and then received notification she had tested positive late yesterday.
The Kempsey community is urged to come forward for testing for even the mildest of symptoms and isolate until they have received their results. The new drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic will open at Kempsey's Riverside Park (near the boat ramp) at noon tomorrow until 6pm.
"It is our first confirmed case in the district since April last year. Our Public Health teams are working with this young person and her family to identify close contacts and places of concern," Mr Dowrick said.
"Our public health teams are working very hard and we will be notified very soon of places of concern."
NSW Health will release details of exposure sites of concern as soon as possible.
The contact tracing will focus on potential sites between Kempsey and surrounds, and Newcastle.
Anyone who is a potential close contact will be notified directly by NSW Health.
In NSW, the predominant COVID variant is Delta and it is having greater health impacts on younger people than previous strains.
Mr Dowrick said it has not been confirmed which variant the girl has contracted. Her family has isolated and will be tested today.
The Mid North Coast, like the rest of NSW, remains under stay-at-home lockdown orders until Sunday, August 22. It has not been confirmed if the seven-day lockdown will be extended but with today's (August 18) numbers topping 633 cases, it does not bode well.
This is a very dangerous variant and COVID is a dangerous disease. People have lost their lives for a long time over this and in Australia. Abide by the public health rules and get vaccinated.- MNCLHD chief executive Stewart Dowrick
"The Mid North Coast has been great with the Public Health Orders and working together as a region," Mr Dowrick said.
"It is just vital that everyone abides by the Public Health Orders that have been requested by the Premier and chief health officer.
"Please, if you don't need to venture out, stay at home. This is a very dangerous variant and COVID is a dangerous disease. People have lost their lives for a long time over this and in Australia. Abide by the public health rules and get vaccinated."
Mr Dowrick said vaccination rates across the Mid North Coast are increasing with GPs and pharmacists now on board to help health staff deliver the jab.
"Get your first dose, and get the second - this is our way out of this," Mr Dowrick said.
Mr Dowrick said more than 150,000 tests were completed across the State on Tuesday. More than 20,000 COVID tests have been undertaken in the Macleay region alone since last year.
"If you feel unwell please get a test. The number of people getting tested on the Mid North Coast has increased, including Kempsey, and I thank the community of Macleay in doing that.
"Our health care teams across the region have been wonderful. They are resilient, they are strong, they'll do it in all sorts of weather and I thank them for their support of our region and community."
Kempsey Shire Council will continue to work with staff and residents to keep people informed of any updates or changing regulations.
I want to remind people to please follow the lockdown rules and be COVID-19 safe. There is a reason we have tried to limit people's movements.- Oxley MP Melinda Pavey
Oxley MP Melinda Pavey said sites of concern will be identified and shared with the community.
"The tracing teams are undertaking an interview with the girl and will immediately update me with information relating to if and where there are any sites of concerns in our region," Ms Pavey said.
"I am relieved though that our schools have been closed for the week, and we do not have a situation whereby other school students, their families and teachers are close contacts.
"I want to remind people to please follow the lockdown rules and be COVID-19 safe.
"There is a reason we have tried to limit people's movements, notwithstanding essential activities.
"I can assure you all, NSW Health is working hard to get the information we need quickly.
"Please all, do the right thing, and stay safe."
Sewage surveillance continues at five sites across the Mid North Coast. Moves will be made to try and include Kempsey as a regional wastewater testing site.
"Kempsey was not considered an area of concern. But we do need to review (sewage surveillance sites) all the time," Mr Dowrick said.
Virus fragment testing began at wastewater treatment plants on the Mid North Coast in October 2020.
Schooling will be done from home in most cases.
Masks must be worn indoors (not including the home) and in outdoor settings where you cannot socially distance from others. Anyone who leaves their home must carry a mask with them at all times.
From August 16, 2021: NSW under 5km from home outside LGA rule and other additional restrictions
The Mid North Coast Local Health District is vaccinating its staff and eligible members of the community when appointments become available.
Go to the online COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to find out when and where you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
You can also speak with your local participating pharmacist or GP about the vaccine that is right for you.
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