COVID-19 in Port Stephens: Schools closed, drive-in testing clinic to open in Nelson Bay after new COVID cases detected

Schools closed, drive-in testing clinic to open after new COVID cases detected

Two Salamander Bay schools and an Anna Bay childcare centre were closed on Thursday following confirmation that a student and young child had tested positive for COVID-19.

Parents and carers with children that attend Tomaree Public School, Tomaree High School and Goodstart Anna Bay Childcare Centre were alerted late on Wednesday that they would be closed on July 23 for specialist cleaning and contact tracing after being alerted to the positive COVID cases.

NSW Health said the cases in the Port Stephens children have been tied to the Thai Rock restaurant cluster, like the case of the 60-year-old Port Stephens man confirmed this week to have COVID-19.

Stemming from the two new cases, Hunter New England Health is urging anyone who visited Salamander Bay Woolworths or Fingal Bay Cafe and Takeaway to watch for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested immediately should any respiratory symptoms or fever occur:

  • Salamander Bay Woolworths on July 17 between 2.30pm to closing time, July 18 between 4pm to closing time, July 19 between 12.45pm to closing time, and July 20 between 3pm to closing time.
  • Fingal Bay Cafe and Takeaway (Market Street, Fingal Bay) on July 17 between 11.30am and 12pm (noon)

"The Woolworths store has been deep cleaned overnight with extra attention to touch points. The cafe has also been thoroughly cleaned and there is no ongoing risk to the community at this venue," NSW Health stated on Thursday morning.

To cope with the influx of people seeking testing on the Tomaree Peninsula, a new three lane drive-through clinic will open at Tomaree Sports Complex (20 Aquatic Close, Nelson Bay) on Thursday afternoon.

It will operate 8am-4pm seven days, however hours will be extended as required to meet demand. To make an appointment for HNEH's drive through clinic, phone (02) 4964 7497 between 8am-4pm.

In a message sent to families that attend the childcare centre, which the Examiner has seen, close to 9pm on Wednesday, Goodstart stated that the centre would be closed on Thursday "as a precautionary measure" due to a child from the "Toddler room" testing positive for COVID-19.

"We are working close with NSW Health to help them identify any close contacts," the message read. "Our centre will undergo specialist cleaning while it is closed."

Later on Wednesday night, parents and carers of children that attend the Tomaree schools were advised that the Salamander Bay-based education centre would be closed to "on-site learning" on Thursday due to a primary school student testing positive for COVID-19.

"The Department of Education has been advised by NSW Health that a student attending Tomaree Public School has tested positive for COVID-19," Tomaree High School principal Sue Xenos said in an email, which the Examiner has seen.

"Both schools will be non-operational for the on-site attendance of staff and students to allow time for the school to complete the contact tracing process and have both sites professionally cleaned."

In a post on Facebook late on Wednesday night, Port Stephens MP Kate Washington publicly announced the closures.

"I understand all three new cases are connected with our first case, the 60 year old man who was in contact with a visitor from Sydney," Ms Washington said.

"I understand that everyone will want more details, but this is a rapidly moving situation. Out of respect for the people involved, more facts and advice will be provided by Hunter New England Health tomorrow as this unfolds.

The Department of Education told the Examiner on Thursday morning that no decision has been made on whether or not the schools will reopen on Friday.

While the school sites are both non-operational, learning materials are available through the department's 'Learning from Home' website.

"NSW Health has requested anyone who has been unwell or has flu-like symptoms to be tested at one of the COVID-19 clinics," the spokesperson said.

Port Stephens residents showing flu-like or respiratory symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste are being urged to get tested for COVID-19. There are two testing clinics operating out of Tomaree Community Hospital.