Residents in 12 Sydney suburbs are being told to get tested if they develop mild Covid-19 symptoms after traces of the virus were found in waterways.
NSW Health said in a statement on Wednesday the virus was found in a sewage system on Sunday that drains to Riverstone, Vineyard, Marsden Park, Shanes Park, Quakers Hill, Oakville, Box Hill, The Ponds, Rouse Hill, Nelson, Schofields and Colebee.
“Detection of the virus in sewage samples could reflect the presence of known cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in recent weeks in the area served by this sewage treatment plant,” NSW Health said.
“However, NSW Health is concerned there could be other active cases in the local community in people who have not been tested and who might incorrectly assume their symptoms are just a cold.
“Particularly in light of the easing of restrictions on gatherings announced earlier today (Wednesday), it is important that people in these areas be aware of any symptoms of illness, and immediately isolate and get tested should even the mildest of symptoms appear.”
Symptoms include a runny nose or scratchy throat, cough, tiredness and fever.
There is no evidence coronavirus is transmitted through wastewater systems.
About 70,000 people live in the 12 suburbs, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
NSW coronavirus restrictions eased
The warning comes after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a number of eased restrictions on Wednesday.
The four-square-metre social distancing recommendation will become the two-square-metre rule, except for inside gyms and nightclubs.
There will be no caps on patron numbers at hospitality venues, nor at wedding and funerals.
People will also now be able to stand at the pub, but it has to be outside.
"We're deeply grateful that since the beginning of the pandemic, the community has taken our advice, has really led the way throughout the nation and we want that to continue," Ms Berejiklian said.
However, the Premier warned that if another Covid-19 outbreak occurred in the coming months in NSW, a rapid reinstatement of restrictions was inevitable.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.