At least 19 COVID cases in NSW town of 150

·3-min read

A remote NSW town with under 200 residents, nearly half of whom are Indigenous, has recorded at least 19 cases of COVID-19.

Enngonia is an hour's drive from the nearest hospital at Bourke. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 148. Some 44.9 per cent were Aboriginal.

Peter Shillingsworth, a 45-year-old Budjiti man, lives in Enngonia with his partner and five boys - one of whom tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago.

"It is scary," he told AAP. "I am very, very, very worried."

Despite the positive case, the family of seven remain in the same four-bedroom house.

Mr Shillingsworth said he only knows about the town's high case numbers because his local MP, Roy Butler, posted it on Facebook. Otherwise Enngonia's numbers are included in the count for Bourke.

By Mr Butler's count, Enngonia had 17 active cases by 7pm on Thursday. At least one more was reported on Friday, and another on Saturday. AAP has sought clarification on the total numbers from NSW Health.

Mr Shillingsworth's cousin, Kiara Eulo, believes case numbers are "100 per cent" going to get higher.

Big families in the same house are common in Enngonia, said Ms Eulo, who lives in Maitland but has close kinship ties with Enngonia.

"It's not going to stop because you're not going to be able to do what the medical advice is and isolate."

She is worried by the high rate of co-morbidities amongst the Engonnia population, plus the mental health risk posed by isolation.

Ms Eulo's sister Ebony is running a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for Aboriginal people in Enngonia.

Ebony Eulo says she and her father, Budjiti elder Phillip Eulo, have been receiving "distressing phone calls" from family and community members.

Her uncle told her he hadn't had his medication for three days. An aunt was airlifted to Dubbo after testing positive and is in intensive care.

Others said food hampers being delivered weren't suitable or sufficient.

"What's in them is not food that our mob eat," Ms Eulo said.

Mr Shillingsworth said his food had been dumped at the front of his house in the pouring rain and that dogs had eaten the meat before he found it.

Ms Eulo has now raised nearly $4000 to get appropriate supplies to Enngonia, but said she's hit barriers with a new local emergency management committee.

It's a collaboration between NSW Police, NSW Health, and Maranguka, a justice reinvestment organisation in Bourke.

"I don't think the Aboriginal voice and especially the Aboriginal elders' voice from these communities are being heard," she said.

Ms Eulo and her father said they are "very concerned" for their family.

"These kids are not used to being locked in four walls, these kids are out running around, going hunting with their fathers, uncles and aunties, and now they're stuck," Ms Eulo said.

"And if they're not getting the food that they need, then how's their physical health?"

Mr Shillingsworth described the mood in the town as "depression, aggression, frustration".

He wants more communication and support from authorities.

Elsewhere in NSW, 22 new virus cases were identified in Dubbo on Saturday, nine in Bourke, three each in Bathurst and Orange and one in Bogan.

Nine new cases were also recorded in Wilcannia, in the state's far west, taking the cluster to 97. More than 13 per cent of the predominantly Indigenous town's population have now caught the virus.

The cases also include 90 in the Nepean Blue Mountains, 17 in the Illawarra Shoalhaven and 15 each in the Hunter New England and Central Coast.

There were 1533 new local cases statewide.

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