28 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 a period from the morning of Wednesday 25 August and overnight until the morning of 26 August.
Bega Valley Shire Mayor Cr Russell Fitzpatrick said Bermagui and Eden samples did not return a detection of the virus during the same period.
“If you’re feeling unwell, even with mild symptoms, please get tested and self-isolate until you receive a negative result,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.
“We’re encouraging people in Merimbula, Pambula and Tura Beach in particular to come forward for testing.”
Cr Fitzpatrick said it was important to remind people that 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.
“NSW Health has increased its testing capability with a pop-up drive through clinic at Club Sapphire in Merimbula open until 4pm this afternoon and from 9am – 2pm on Sunday 29 August to supplement the testing capability at South East Regional Hospital.
“Practising good hand hygiene, wearing a mask and using QR codes to check in at venues continue to be 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.
NSW Health has approved a request from Council to expand the sewage sampling area in the shire. Staff at the Bega plant will begin providing samples to the NSW Health Water Unit on Monday 30 August, adding to other sampling sites in Merimbula, Eden and Bermagui.
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 is open until 4pm today in the carpark at Club Sapphire, 119 Main Street, Merimbula. The clinic will also operate 9am to 2pm tomorrow (Sunday).
South East Regional Hospital’s COVID-19 drive through testing clinic is open Monday to Sunday 8am to 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