2 September 2021

Far South Coast COVID-19 concerns grow

| Kim Treasure
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COVID-19 fragments have now been found in sewage at Bega. Photo: File.

There’s growing concern on the NSW Far South Coast after fragments of the COVID-19 virus were detected at the Bega sewage treatment plant.

The discovery follows two earlier detections in nearby Merimbula and no known causes.

Bega Valley Shire Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said undetected COVID-19 cases within the Bega Valley Shire remain a strong possibility, and low testing rates were of concern.

The Bega sewage treatment plant serves about 4200 people in Bega and parts of North Bega.

“The detection of virus fragments at the Bega and Merimbula sewage treatment plants within a space of two weeks is of growing concern,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“If you live in Bega, Merimbula, Pambula or any area bordering these towns, and you have the slightest hint of cold-like symptoms, get tested. It’s the only way we will work through this as a community.

“This means if you are experiencing symptoms such as headache, nausea, sore throat, runny nose, cough, loss of smell or taste, or fever, you should be getting tested, and you need to isolate until a negative result is received.

READ ALSO Lockdown protestors arrested and PINs issued at Goulburn, Snowy Mountains and South Coast

“Since the virus fragments were first detected in Merimbula, the number of people getting tested remains low.

“There is much speculation about where these fragments have come from, but the fact remains that if we want to know if there are COVID-19 cases in the Bega Valley Shire, we need to get ourselves tested.”

By comparison, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said there had been “a real uptick” in testing in the Snowy Mountains following the discovery of virus fragments in Thredbo sewage.

“It’s good to see residents are responding. The vaccination rates in the Snowy Mountains have also come up,” he said.

Mr Barilaro said there were no new COVID-19 cases in the Southern NSW Local Health District to 8:00 pm yesterday, but two new cases had been recorded today (2 September).

“There are two new cases in Queanbeyan, but they are both linked to Canberra and there are no new exposure sites,” he said.

READ ALSO Authorities ‘baffled’ as COVID-19 sewage fragments found in Thredbo, Merimbula

Bega Valley Shire Council will continue sending samples from the sewage treatment plants in Eden, Bermagui, Merimbula and Bega to NSW Health for testing twice weekly.

South East Regional Hospital’s COVID-19 drive through testing clinic is open Monday to Sunday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The Queanbeyan walk-in vaccination clinic opened today (2 September), and Goulburn, Batemans Bay and Cooma will open over the next 10 days.

Anyone aged 18 or over can attend the clinics without a booking and receive an AstraZeneca vaccine.

All clinics will open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm:

  • Queanbeyan, Morriset House, Morriset St. From 2 to 4 September.
  • Goulburn, Old RTA building, Bourke St. From 5 to 7 September.
  • Batemans Bay, Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, 6 Beach Rd. From 9 to 11 September.
  • Cooma, Multi-Function Centre, 10 Boundary Street. From 12 to 14 September.

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