The NSW town where over 10 per cent of residents have Covid

·4-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.

NSW reported 1533 new local cases on Saturday, the second consecutive day the state announced record Covid infections.

"It is scary," he told AAP, referring to Enngonia's outbreak. 

"I am very, very, very worried."

A red circle on a map of NSW's Covid spread which shows the local government area that takes in Enngonia.
A map showing the NSW local government area that Enngonia's Covid numbers are counted in. Source: NSW Government

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

Mr Shillingsworth said he only knew 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.

GoFundMe started for Covid-stricken community

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, Ms Eulo, who lives in Maitland but has close kinship ties with Enngonia, said.

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

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

Budjiti elder Phillip Eulo and his daughter, Ebony. Source: AAP/Supplied
Budjiti elder Phillip Eulo and his daughter, Ebony. Source: AAP/Supplied

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," Ebony 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.

Ebony 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.

Resident calls for more support from Covid officials

Ebony and her father said they were "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," Ebony 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.

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