Dozens of Sydney suburbs are being urged to come forward for testing after fragments of coronavirus were found in sewage.
Despite NSW going 11 days without any locally acquired cases, NSW Health has called on anyone with the slightest of symptoms in and around southwest Sydney and the Hawkesbury to get tested.
The warning comes as the state’s sewage surveillance program detected fragments of the virus at the North Richmond and West Camden treatment plants.
“The most recent cases in the West Camden catchment were reported in September, but no one living in the North Richmond catchment has recently tested positive for COVID-19,” NSW Health said in a statement on Tuesday.
Testing rates have dropped off in NSW in recent weeks, a trend that is worrying health authorities who labelled it “a concern” on Tuesday.
‘Not the time to become complacent’
“NSW Health is appealing to the community to come forward for testing right away if you have even the mildest of symptoms like a runny nose or scratchy throat, cough, fever or other symptoms that could be COVID-19,” the statement said.
On Tuesday there were just 5,585 tests processed in the previous 24 hours. On Monday, that number was as low as 4,789 – the lowest since June 9.
Up until early September, daily testing numbers routinely exceeded 20,000.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly warned residents not to lose focus in the battle against the virus and that continued high levels of testing will give authorities the best picture as to the virus’s threat in the community.
Assistant Executive Director of Health Protection NSW, Dr Richard Broome warned that this “is not the time to become complacent”.
The warning comes a day after thousands of Sydneysiders flocked to the coast over the long weekend to soak up the warm weather. While images showed beaches packed, local councils insisted they were operated in a Covid-safe manner.
Dr Broome did note that people previously infected with coronavirus could continue “shedding” virus fragments up to four weeks after recovering.
While NSW is edging towards two weeks without known local transmission, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly warned there will be outbreaks.
She said on Tuesday she is doubtful that NSW will go 28 days without community transmission - the benchmark Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has set for the border to fully re-open on November 1.
Southwest Sydney suburbs told to watch out for symptoms:
Hawkesbury suburbs told to watch out for symptoms:
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