14 December 2020

COVID-19 found in Batemans Bay sewage

| Hannah Sparks
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COVID-19 test

Authorities have detected the COVID-19 virus in Batemans Bay sewage for a second time. Photo: Mufid Majnun.

NSW Health authorities are urging people in the Batemans Bay area to get tested for COVID-19 after the virus was detected in the town’s sewage for the second time in less than a month.

An alert was issued on Friday (11 December) after fragments of the virus that cause COVID-19 were found in samples taken at Batemans Bay’s sewage treatment plant last week. The Batemans Bay catchment takes sewage from about 21,000 people.

Fragments of the virus were also found in the town’s sewage on 17 November.

Based on the results, NSW Health authorities say they are concerned there could be active cases in the local community, carried by people who have not been tested and who might incorrectly assume their COVID-19 symptoms are just a cold.

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However, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage may also reflect the presence of people in the local community who have recovered from COVID-19, such as people released from hotel isolation returning to their place of residence.

Therefore, authorities are urging anyone with cold-like symptoms to come forward for testing. The most common symptoms include fever, dry cough and tiredness. Less common symptoms can include aches and pains, a sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, a headache, loss of taste or smell, or skin rash.

Batemans Bay residents can get tested at the free clinic at Moruya Hospital, which is open from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm between Monday and Friday and from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The clinic is located at the Moruya Pathways building (on the right-hand side of the hospital), with the entrance through the door closest to the road at 2 River St, Moruya.

The good news is that there were no new cases of COVID-19 in NSW on Saturday. Three new cases had been reported in overseas travellers, bringing the number of cases in the state to 4453 since the pandemic began.

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However, the number of people being tested for the virus is worrying health authorities. The number of tests fell by about 1000 in the past week.

A NSW Health spokesperson said that “with restrictions eased, borders having reopened and Christmas less than two weeks away, it is important that we remain vigilant”.

The Public Health (COVID-19 Border Control – South Australia) Order 2020 was also repealed on Saturday, which means people entering NSW from South Australia no longer have any border restrictions or requirements, including the need to fill out a declaration on arrival.

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