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COVID-19 fragments detected in Merimbula sewage system

25 August 2021

NSW Health has advised that fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been detected in the sewage system at Merimbula. The detection was from a sample taken over Sunday 22 August and Monday 23 August.

Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Cr Russell Fitzpatrick said while the positive sewage result may indicate the presence of people who have recently recovered from COVID-19, they could also signal undetected cases in the community.

“These results do not necessarily mean there are active cases in the community, but we need to stay alert,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“If you’re feeling unwell, even with mild symptoms, please get tested and self-isolate until you receive a negative result.

“NSW Health is increasing their testing capability with a pop-up drive through clinic in Merimbula opening this afternoon, to supplement the testing capability at South East Regional Hospital.

“And of course, practising good hand hygiene, wearing a mask and using QR codes to check in at venues are also important to help keep our community safe.”

COVID-19 symptoms include a sore throat, runny nose, cough, fever or headache.

Council has been carrying out twice weekly checks of sewage processing sites at Eden, Bermagui and Merimbula to get an early warning of possible infections within the community by looking for traces of the COVID-19 virus in our sewage.

“Importantly, Bermagui and Eden samples did not return a detection of the virus during the same period,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

Results from the next sample is expected to be available over the coming weekend. Cr Fitzpatrick said the request to NSW Health to increase testing from once to twice a week was made by the Bega Valley Local Emergency Management Committee in order to get as much early warning of any infections in the community as possible.

“We were very pleased that NSW Health agreed to twice per week testing. It shows they understand the severity of the threat to our LGA should we experience an outbreak.”

A pop-up drive through testing clinic will be open from 2pm to 7pm today in the carpark at Club Sapphire, 119 Main Street, Merimbula. The clinic will also operate 8am – 4pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week.

South East Regional Hospital’s COVID-19 drive through testing clinic is open Monday to Sunday 8am – 4pm.

A full list of COVID-19 testing clinic sites and hours is available at: www.snswlhd.health.nsw.gov.au/our-services/infectious-disease/covid-19

For the latest COVID-19 updates and advice, please go to www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19