Yass locked back down after COVID case

·3-min read

The Yass Valley Council area in regional NSW has gone back into lockdown following a positive COVID-19 case, three days after restrictions were eased for residents.

The LGA in the Southern Tablelands will return to lockdown settings for two weeks from 12.01am on Tuesday.

Fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 were detected in Yass over the weekend, but NSW Health confirmed a positive case and an update to the health directions late on Monday afternoon.

"Urgent investigations and contact tracing are underway," it said in a statement.

Elsewhere in regional NSW, there are nearly a thousand cases of COVID-19 in the state's west with authorities particularly concerned about the town of Walgett.

Elders and health leaders say the NSW government failed to adequately consult and coordinate with Indigenous medical services to help protect communities in the area.

NSW Health's Jeremy McAnulty said 12 new locally acquired cases in the state's west had brought the total there to 978, with five in Bathurst, four in Dubbo, two in Bourke and one in Walgett.

Walgett is one of the most socially disadvantaged areas in the state, with the Indigenous community making up 30 per cent of its population.

"We're concerned people who have been in Walgett or live in nearby communities, where there might have been a contact travelling to and from Walgett, (need) to be particularly vigilant and come forward for testing," Dr McNulty said on Monday.

Wendy Spencer, Chief Executive Officer of the Dharriwaa Elders Group in Walgett, said the government's lack of engagement with Aboriginal health services was "shocking" and these services needed to be resourced appropriately.

"We can't really understand why police and the army are the ones that are resourced to be responding to a public health emergency and it leads to potentially really disastrous consequences down the track," Ms Spencer told a NSW parliamentary inquiry into the government's management of the pandemic.

"People being issued with huge public health order fines for example."

Dr Peter Malouf from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW said there had yet to be a meeting between state health authorities and Aboriginal community services to discuss public health responses and restrictions.

"What I would like to see is that an urgent meeting be called between the chief health officer and the minister of health with our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to discuss these critical issues at this point in time," Dr Malouf told the hearing.

Earlier, the inquiry heard testimony from Aunty Monica Kerwin, a spokesperson from the remote far west community of Wilcannia, where more than one-in-six residents of the majority Aboriginal population have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Ms Kerwin said she warned the government a year ago that overcrowding in housing would pose an issue for any potential outbreaks in the community.

"I felt at that time that nobody really listened to what our opinion was," she said on Monday morning.

"Our opinion wasn't valued at that level... It was heartbreaking."

There was also a significant increase in cases over the weekend in the Illawarra Shoalhaven area as well as in the Central Coast and Hunter.

Of the total 1257 new cases for the entire state to 8pm on Sunday, 78 are from Nepean Blue Mountains, 27 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven, 18 are from Hunter New England district, 16 are from the Central Coast and two are from Southern Local Health District.

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