Port Stephens COVID-19 update from Hunter New England Health's Dr David Durrheim

STAY CALM: Dr David Durrheim, public health controller for HNEH's COVID-19 response, said there is no need to panic at this stage as there are
STAY CALM: Dr David Durrheim, public health controller for HNEH's COVID-19 response, said there is no need to panic at this stage as there are "no known cases of a community transmission" in Port Stephens.

A team of junior Nelson Bay AFL players will enter 14 days of home isolation after coming into contact with one of the three new cases of COVID-19 in Port Stephens.

Hunter New England Health District said on Thursday that two Port Stephens children, aged 10 and 2, and a man in his 30s who had tested positive for COVID-19 were "close contacts" of a man, aged 60, who was on Wednesday confirmed to have the virus.

The children attend Tomaree Public School and Goodstart Anna Bay Childcare Centre, which were closed on Thursday for cleaning and contact tracing.

All close contacts of the children are being notified and are required to isolate for 14 days. This has included the Nelson Bay Blue Marlins under-9 AFL team, which the 10 year old is a member of.

The child participated in the side's first game of the season at Tomaree Sports Complex on July 19 against the Newcastle City Sky Blues.

"The child's team mates are considered close contacts and are being notified and will be required to isolate for 14 days. The opposing team, and others present at the oval are asked to be on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested immediately should any respiratory symptoms or fever occur," HNEH stated.

Dr David Durrheim, public health controller for HNEH's COVID-19 response, telling the Examiner that the three newest confirmed Port Stephens cases were in self isolation.

"These people have done the right thing in coming forward and getting tested... the Port Stephens community should be thankful that have taken that responsibility, which is keeping the rest of us safe," he said. "Our team is now doing everything they possibly can to contact anyone who has had close contact with the new cases."

Stemming from the new cases, HNEH is urging anyone who visited the below locations between July 17 and 20 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)
  • Don Waring Oval (Tomaree Sports Complex) on July 19 between 8.15am and 10am.

"The Woolworths store has been deep cleaned overnight [Wednesday] 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.

NSW Health added that the new Port Stephens cases have been tied to the Thai Rock restaurant cluster.

Dr Durrheim reiterated that everyone with symptoms should get tested and to ease the delays at the Tomaree Community Hospital clinic, HNEH would open a three lane drive through clinic at Tomaree Sports Complex on Thursday afternoon.

The drive through clinic will operate 8am-4pm, seven days.

No appointments are required for Thursday, but from Friday, July 24 the clinic will be by appointment only. HNEH advise that children under the age of 5 should be tested at Tomaree Community Hospital.

To make an appointment for HNEH's drive through or hospital clinic, phone (02) 4964 7497 between 8am and 4pm.

"We are experiencing a very high volume of calls so please be patient when calling to book an appointment. If the clinic you are hoping to visit is busy, you can find other local options by visiting the NSW Health website or your GP," Dr Durrheim said.

"This additional clinic increases our testing capability significantly. We are currently seeing between 300-400 people at our hospital clinic, with the on-site Laverty clinic experiencing similar numbers. We anticipate this same amount again will attend the drive through each day."

Dr Durrheim said that now was the time for the people of Port Stephens to remain vigilant and to be meticulous in their awareness of the health advice.

"There is no need to panic at this stage as there are no known cases of a community transmission," he said.

"We know what works to contain the spread of the virus: keep your 1.5m distance, ensure good hand and face hygiene and wearing face masks is a useful additional measure, particularly for elderly residents.

"There is also an alert for people not to travel to Sydney unless absolutely necessary."

Most of all, Dr Durrheim stressed, was the message that anybody with the slightest of flu-like symptoms to immediately isolate themselves and get tested.

RELATED READING