27 April 2021

Residents respond after COVID-19 fragments found at Merimbula

| Kim Treasure
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South East Regional Hospital

COVID testing is taking place at the South East Regional Hospital in Bega. Photo: Facebook.

The Far South Coast community has responded proactively to renewed COVID-19 fears, with 40 people turning out for testing over the weekend.

NSW Health appealed for Bega Valley Shire residents with even the mildest symptoms to get tested after fragments of the COVID-19 virus were detected in the sewage system at Merimbula last week. As a result, there was a 16 per cent increase in presentations for testing on Saturday and 14 per cent on Sunday.

The Merimbula sewage treatment plant serves about 15,000 people on the Far South Coast.

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While the fragments indicate there may be undetected COVID-19 circulating in the community, they could also show the presence of people who have recently recovered from the virus.

Bega Valley Shire Mayor Cr Russell Fitzpatrick said people who have recently recovered from COVID-19 could continue to shed fragments of the virus for several weeks after recovery; however, it was a timely reminder to monitor for symptoms and get tested if unwell.

“This doesn’t mean we have any active cases in the shire, but we need to stay alert,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“If you’re feeling unwell, even with mild symptoms, please get tested and self-isolate until you receive a negative result.

“And of course, practising good hand hygiene and using QR codes to check-in at venues are also important to help keep our community safe.”

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COVID-19 symptoms include a sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever or headache.

South East Regional Hospital has opened its COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic.

A full list of COVID-19 testing clinic sites and hours is available here.

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