Urgent warning for holiday destination as Covid found in sewage

Thousands of people in a popular tourist region have been urged to be on “high alert” after traces of coronavirus were detected in sewage.

More than 140,000 people residing on the NSW Central Coast should present for Covid testing even if they have the mildest of symptoms, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged on Wednesday.

Traces of the virus were detected at the Kincumber treatment plant, which services the Gosford area, on Monday, Dr Chant said.

“We are aware that there is a Covid positive case on the Central Coast, as well as a case from Western Sydney who visited Avoca while infectious last weekend,” she told reporters.

Dr Kerry Chant.
Dr Kerry Chant urged Central Coast residents to be on "high alert". Source: AAP

While acknowledging the two cases could explain why the traces were detected, she expressed the state government’s strong desire is to “take a very cautious approach”.

“There is an explanation for this, but we want to take a very cautious approach...please be on high alert and please get tested if you’ve got the most minimal of symptoms,” she said.

Suburbs serviced by the sewage system include Niagara Park, Narara, Lisarow, Wyoming, West Gosford, North Gosford, Somersby, Kariong, Point Clare, Tascott, Koolewong and Springfield.

As well as Erina, Terrigal, Wamberal, Forresters Beach, North Avoca, Avoca Beach, Copacabana, Macmasters Beach, Bouddi, Green Point, Yattalunga, Kincumber, Kincumber South, Bensville, Saratoga, Davistown, Empire Bay, St Huberts Island, Daleys Point, Killcare, Killcare Heights, Hardys Bay, Pretty Beach and Wagstaffe.

NSW Health has continued to call on people in Sydney’s Upper North Shore to get tested after traces of the virus were detected at a Hornsby Heights treatment plant on December 19.

Two recent COVID-19 cases in the area are linked to the Avalon cluster.

Cases linked to the Avalon cluster have visited a growing list of locations across Sydney, including Coles and Woolworths stores.

The Kincumber treatment plant.
Traces of the virus were detected at the Kincumber treatment plant. Source: Google Maps

Qantas staff member tests positive

A Qantas crew member was also identified as one of the new positive cases after flying in from overseas and taking a flight from Darwin to Sydney on December 18.

Dr Chant, while yet to attain specific flight details, said there were precautions in place on the flight, which she believed was not carrying a full load of passengers.

Additionally, she thanked the public for its response to widespread calls for people in the Greater Sydney region to be tested following the cluster on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

“Thank you very much for taking that action,” she said.

There were eight new cases reported on Wednesday morning, seven of which were directly linked to Sydney’s Northern Beaches cluster.

The eighth case was a direct contact of a positive case in a health care worker transporting people to hotel quarantine.

Interestingly however, genomic sequencing revealed the health care worker was infected with the same strain as what has been detected in Avalon, making it unlikely they received it from a passenger.

Dr Chant said on Wednesday that tracers were still investigating how the driver acquired the virus.

New rules for Christmas as more cases emerge

In Greater Sydney, people will be able to celebrate Christmas with groups of up to 10 people plus children under the age of 12 allowed in a home on December 24, 25 and 26.

The Northern Beaches has now been split into two parts – for homes north of the Narrabeen bridge on the Northern Beaches, five people from that area will be allowed to be invited into homes.

If you live in that northern part of the beaches you cannot leave the area.

South of the Narrabeen bridge, people will be able to have 10 people including children in their homes on December 24, 25 and 26.

Those people are allowed to be from outside the area, however people in the southern part of the Northern Beaches are not allowed to leave.

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