COVID-19 numbers jump in western NSW

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Daily COVID-19 case numbers have risen significantly in western NSW, with health authorities intensifying their calls for people to be tested.

The Western NSW Local Health District recorded 53 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday, more than double the number seen the day before.

Some 31 of those cases were in the town of Dubbo, which has had 537 cases.

The Bourke local government area had 11 cases – its highest-ever tally – split between the town of Bourke and Enngonia, 100km away.

Enngonia had just 148 residents at the time of the 2016 census, 45 per cent of whom were Indigenous.

The Bathurst area had six new cases and Walgett two cases.

Case numbers rose by seven in the majority-Aboriginal town of Wilcannia, in the state’s far west.

Some 87 people have now tested positive in a town whose population is under 1000.

Health authorities are concerned that testing numbers are too low and there are cases not being picked up.

“Testing remains pretty much where it has been, around about 4000 tests, which we know isn’t really enough,” Dubbo’s local MP, Dugald Saunders, said on Friday.

“We know that people who should be getting tested probably aren’t.”

Nine of Dubbo’s new cases were infectious in the community for at least two days, Western NSW LHD chief executive Scott McLachlan says.

Mr McLachlan is calling on residents to take part in “Super Swab Saturday” and get tested on what’s set to be a gloomy day of weather.

Three residents of an aged care facility in Dubbo have tested positive after a staff member unknowingly worked while infectious. A second worker has also been infected.

Of the staff at St Mary’s Villa, 22 are fully vaccinated and 15 are partially vaccinated. Twenty-three residents are fully vaccinated and 12 are partially no vaccinated. There is no staff member or resident who hasn’t received a dose.

The residents are being cared for in the facility.

In Wilcannia, four rapid testing machines will arrive over the weekend to help improve testing turnaround times.

The machines can process 64 swabs a day on site, without needing to be transported to Broken Hill.

Wilcannia’s showground is now home to a camp for up to 70 workers from the RFS, army and police helping with the vaccination and health effort.

Thirty mobile vehicles will be stationed at the Victory Park Caravan Park to allow people to isolate.

Telstra has brought in a “Cell on Wheels” to Wilcannia to improve connectivity for the town as it endures this crisis.

The number of people in hospital in the Western NSW LHD has also increased.

Twenty patients are now in hospital. Six are in intensive care in Dubbo, and three are ventilated.

Vaccination rates, however, are “skyrocketing” in Dubbo, Deputy Premier John Barilaro said on Friday.

“They are doubling their first doses in over a week.”

The district has administered more than 16,000 doses in its vaccine hubs in the past few weeks, Mr McLachlan said.

Elsewhere in NSW, 10 new cases were identified in the Hunter New England district.

A case in the Upper Hunter LGA turned out to be a false alarm as the person actually lived in Sydney.

The Illawarra had 13 new cases, including nine in Wollongong, two in Shellharbour and one in the Shoalhaven.

There were eight cases on the Central Coast.

Rural and regional NSW is in lockdown until at least September 10.

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