The Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is currently piloting COVID-19 surveillance testing in a number of communities where there are circumstances that could be explained by more widespread testing.
“Surveillance testing is different from what we’ve been doing previously in that we want to test as many people as possible, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not,” said WNSWLHD Chief Executive Scott McLachlan.
“People who aren’t close contacts or who don’t have any symptoms themselves or in anyone else in their household are then not required to self-isolate until they get their results.
“We’re going to pilot that approach in number of communities where we have questions that could be resolved by widespread testing.”.
Mr McLachlan said those issues might include:
- detections in sewage testing where there aren’t any known cases
- significant community transmission
- known cases where contact tracing hasn’t been able to determine the likely source of transmission
“Initially we’re offering surveillance testing in:
- Walgett, Trangie, Lightning Ridge, Cowra, Forbes and Mudgee because of sewage detections with no known cases locally
- Bathurst, Dubbo and Bourke where we have had substantial community transmission
- Brewarrina where we have had cases but haven’t got a clear indication of how it’s entered the community.
“Testing is available in all these communities and we want to encourage people to come forward to make a contribution to the surveillance testing.
“We obviously still need people who have symptoms, or who are identified as close contacts, to be tested. In those cases, people will still need to self-isolate until they receive their results, or in some cases for the full 14 days regardless of their results.
“It’s important that people continue to monitor the list of venues where transmission may have occurred to determine if they might be close or casual contacts, and follow the health advice accordingly.”.
“If you have been directed to isolate by NSW Health as a close contact you must not leave isolation after being tested, regardless of symptoms or the test result.
Mr McLachlan said the response to surveillance testing in those locations would be monitored to determine how it could be rolled out across the whole of the Local Health District.
When the joint Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) and Australian Defence Force (ADF) COVID-19 vaccination clinics were held in Bathurst and Orange last week, both communities came out in force to access these walk-in vaccination opportunities.
“It is incredibly pleasing to see that 8,326 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were provided by the mass vaccination initiative last week in these two communities,” said WNSWLHD Chief Executive Scott McLachlan.
“Both cities benefitted from increased partnership arrangements for the week, with our staff and the ADF teams being joined by Ochre Health to deliver 4,111 vaccines in Bathurst and Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS) and local GPs coming on board for Orange, where a further 4,215 shots were provided at the DPIE site.
“This was truly a collaborative effort and I’d like to sincerely thank both these partners and the people of both communities who turned up, waited patiently in line and got their jab to help protect their loved ones and the entire community. This is our best weapon for fighting COVID-19 and coming together for these mass vaccination initiatives has surely contributed to the jump we’ve now seen in the first dose vaccination rates of almost 11% for Bathurst and around 12.5% for Orange over the past week.
“I’d also like to acknowledge and thank the local Councils, Police, SES, RFS and other NSW Government Agencies for their efforts in helping to make these clinics such a success, as well as the many local business who showed their support by donating water, snacks, incentive gifts and much more.
The vaccines available in NSW have been proven to be safe and effective. They dramatically reduce the chance of contracting Covid-19, and if that does happen they also reduce the likelihood of patients becoming very sick or dying. They also help reduce the rate of transmission of Covid-19 to other people.
The clinics will return in three weeks to deliver the vital second vaccination doses.
“These walk-in clinics were a huge success and a fantastic opportunity but they’re not the only way you can get vaccinated,” said Mr McLachlan.
“Many general practitioners, pharmacies and Aboriginal Medical Services now offer vaccination as part of their usual business. We also have our booked vaccination hubs at Bathurst, based at CSU, and in Orange at the Nymagee building on the Bloomfield campus.
“We’re also partnering with the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service this week to deliver another walk-in clinic at the Kelso Community Hub. It’s located at 24 Bonnor Street and will be open from 10am to 4pm until from now through until Friday, so we encourage locals to take advantage of that opportunity too.
“The Delta strain of Covid-19 is incredibly easy to pass on, and can make people – even young, healthy people – very sick. In fact, if someone in your household has Covid-19 it’s almost certain that everyone in that household will get it.
“Vaccination in substantial numbers is our way through this as a community.
COVID-19 vaccination rates in Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) are now among the most-improved in the state across the last four weeks.
Scott McLachlan, WNSWLHD Chief Executive, said vaccination rates across the District have skyrocketed in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
“I’m really proud of our communities. They’ve heard the message that vaccination is the best way to tackle COVID-19 and they’ve stepped up,” Mr McLachlan said.
“We’ve seen the first-dose rate of COVID-19 vaccinations go from 17 per cent to 56 per cent for Aboriginal people and from 41 per cent to 82 per cent for non-Aboriginal people.
“The second-dose rate for Aboriginal people has gone from around seven per cent to almost 22 per cent, and from 20 per cent to more than 41 per cent for non-Aboriginal people.
“While we’ve still got a long way to go to reach that 80 per cent goal, the number of people with first doses on board puts us in a really good position.
“I can’t stress this enough though – we can’t afford to think we’ve done enough.
“Keep encouraging people to get vaccinated and make sure you come back for your second dose, it’s only after both doses that you get the maximum protection.
“Still get tested if you have any symptoms or concerns. Keep following the Stay At Home orders, practice good hand hygiene and social distancing and use the available QR codes.”
Seven local government areas in the District – Weddin, Orange, Dubbo, Coonamble, Parkes, Narromine and Mid-Western – all have first dose rates over 80 per cent.
Coonamble has the highest second-dose rate across the District at almost 50 per cent. Orange, Weddin, Gilgandra, Walgett, Brewarrina, Cowra, Lachlan, Bourke and Forbes are all above 40 per cent.
From the week ending 8 August until 9 September, the most-improved LGA in terms of first doses was Gilgandra, up by 54.6 per cent. Half of all the LGAs in the District improved by more than 40 per cent.
Gilgandra also topped the list of most-improved in terms of second doses, rising by almost 36 per cent. Half of all the LGAs in the District improved by more than 20 per cent.
Mr McLachlan said that while massive improvements had been made across all of the District’s LGAs, there remains room for improvement in many.
“In LGAs like Cabonne, Cobar and Oberon we really need to see some improvement,” he said.
“These LGAs have the lowest rate of first doses so there’s work to do in those locations. We can’t afford to see any communities left behind.
“A lot of us travel to see friends and family, or for work or events – so we need to work together to tackle this threat.”
WNSWLHD vaccination rates and increases by LGA:
W/E 8 Aug:
Estimated dose 1 population
W/E 8 Aug:
Estimated dose 2 population
To 9 Sep:
Estimated dose 1 population
Up to 9 Sep:
Estimated dose 2 population
Orange Hospital will receive a prestigious World Stroke Organization Angels Gold Status Award for meeting the highest standards in stroke treatment and care, which locksmith Ian Stapleton experienced first-hand this year.
Mr Stapleton suffered a stroke on March 4 and spent two months in Orange Hospital.
“The staff were excellent, the care they gave me was great. From the ambulance officers to the doctors and the nurses, all the staff," Mr Stapleton, 59, said.
“I'm a locksmith, and I was out fixing a lady's lock and felt perfectly fine. Then the right side of my body just stopped working. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I fell down.
“It was scary, but I knew I needed to let the healthcare staff do what they needed to. They're the professionals, so as soon as I went down I left that up to them to do their job.
“For the first couple of weeks in hospital it was scary, I did wonder if I'd come good again. But I was into rehab pretty quickly and it worked, the fine motor-skills exercise they had me doing.
“Because my work involves a lot of tiny pins and locks, I practiced on those all the time as well and that really helped as well.
“The bleed was on the left side of my brain so it affected the right side of my body, but I'm left handed, so I guess I was lucky in a way in that sense.
“I'm still not quite 100 per cent yet but I'm getting there, I'm hoping I will completely get back to how I was. But I can drive and work again now, I'm really happy where I've got to.
“Where I am now, it's certainly much better than the alternative, I can tell you that."
Facilitated by the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation, the World Stroke Organization Angels Gold Status Award were open to regional hospitals participating in the NSW Realising Improvement in StrokE program (RISE).
Training, protocol and the performance of the hospital's stroke unit were assessed as part of the Angels initiative.
That included meeting a target of restoring blood-flow to more than half of the eligible patients within an hour of their hospital arrival.
Orange Hospital will receive a prestigious World Stroke Organization Angels Gold Status Award for meeting the highest standards in stroke treatment and care.
Facilitated by the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation, the awards were open to regional hospitals participating in the NSW Realising Improvement in StrokE program (RISE).
Fiona Ryan, Orange Hospital Stroke Care Co-Ordinator, said achieving WSO Gold Status is testament to the team’s commitment and dedication to improving stroke care.
“Stroke is a time-critical medical emergency. With each minute that goes by more brain cells can be lost and the risk of disability and death increase,” Ms Ryan Said.
“Acting swiftly on the signs of stroke and implementing best practice care requires coordination between ambulance, emergency department, radiology and stroke unit staff, and early access to rehabilitation.
“This has been our priority and it’s wonderful to be recognised globally.”
Orange Hospital treats approximately 150 strokes each year1. Training, protocol and the performance of the hospital’s stroke unit were assessed as part of the Angels initiative.
That included meeting a target of restoring blood-flow to more than half of the eligible patients within an hour of their hospital arrival.
“In regional Australia, we have higher rates of stroke and contend with the challenge of providing access to expert care over long distances. Across the District we service 270,000 people across 250,000 square kilometres,” Ms Ryan said.
“It’s a great achievement to have more than 50 per cent of eligible patients receive clot-busting therapy within 60 minutes of arriving at Orange Hospital.
A major report by the Stroke Foundation highlights that people living in regional Australia are 17 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than those living in metropolitan areas2.
“Achieving WSO Gold status was not possible without the incredible efforts of on-site staff, however data and technology also play an important role in modern stroke care,” Ms Ryan said.
Professor Ken Butcher, Medical Director of the NSW Telestroke Service, explained hospitals are benefitting from the service’s roll-out. The NSW Telestroke Service is currently available in 12 hospitals, including Orange, and will expand to up to 23 sites by June 2022.
Telestroke provides 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week access to lifesaving stroke diagnoses and treatment, connecting local doctors to specialist stroke physicians via video consultation in the emergency department.
“Using Telestroke, our clinicians can deliver better outcomes for patients exhibiting signs of stroke by harnessing this cutting-edge technology – irrespective of location,” Professor Butcher said.
About stroke in Australia and NSW
• Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers. It kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.3
• 27,428 Australians experienced stroke for the first time in their lives in 2020, which equates to one stroke every 19 minutes.2
• 145,066 survivors of stroke are currently living in NSW (445,087 across Australia).2
• 2,901 people in NSW will die as a result of stroke this year (8,703 throughout Australia).2
• The economic cost of stroke exceeded $6.2 billion in 2020, with a further $26 billion in lost wellbeing - due to short and long-term disability, and premature death nationally.2
• Reducing uncontrolled high blood pressure and providing quicker access to emergency stroke treatments has the potential to save $179 million over five years in economic costs and $2.4 billion in reduced mortality and improved wellbeing annually.2
• 24% of strokes occur in Australians aged 18-54 years. In 2012 this number was just 14%.2
A drive-through Covid-19 vaccination clinic offering both Pfizer and AstraZeneca has opened at Dubbo Showground.
The new drive-through vaccination clinic is operating at the Ewan MacInnes Pavilion at Dubbo Showground seven days a week by bookings only and is expected to initially be able to deliver upward of 200 vaccinations each day.
Scott McLachlan, WNSWLHD Chief Executive, said it is an exciting development in the continued fight against Covid-19 that will significantly boost the district’s vaccination efforts.
“The drive-through clinic will enable people to be vaccinated from the comfort of their own car and will operate alongside our vaccination clinic, which is also located at Dubbo Showground after moving from Manera Plaza earlier in the week,” Mr McLachlan said.
“It will be more accessible for people with mobility issues, allow all eligible people in households to receive their vaccinations at the same time and will be much easier for parents and carers.
“The Australian Defence Force is continuing to support vaccination clinics across the District, so we have never had better access to vaccines and I urge everyone in the community to take advantage of this additional opportunity.”
Dugald Saunders, Member for the Dubbo electorate, called on the entire community to make the most of this chance.
“The new drive-through clinic provides an alternative vaccine delivery option for families that would like to be vaccinated together. It will also offer both Pfizer and AstraZeneca, which are both safe and effective options,” Mr Saunders said.
“I cannot stress enough how important vaccination is. Here in Dubbo, we are feeling the worst of this outbreak across Western NSW but we all have a role to play in protecting each other.”
Stephen Lawrence, Dubbo region mayor, said it was a golden opportunity for the community to help keep each other safe.
“Along with the WNSWLHD clinics, vaccinations are also available through GPs, the Aboriginal Medical Service and a number of pharmacies across Dubbo. If you haven’t already, take the step to get vaccinated,” Mr Saunders said.
Covid-19 vaccination is also available in Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange at WNSWLHD’s vaccination hubs. Bookings can be made by visiting the online Eligibility Checker or calling Health Direct on 1800 022 222.
Western NSW Local Health District’s (WNSWLHD) Covid-19 vaccination hub at Bathurst is on the move, relocating from its William Street location to a new site on Charles Sturt University’s campus.
With the support of Charles Sturt, the vaccination hub will move to the university’s campus at Building 1286 on Panorama Avenue and will operate from Monday 23 August onward, seven days a week.
Melissa Belfanti, Bathurst Vaccination Hub Executive Lead, said “The relocation of our vaccination hub will allow us to increase capacity and safely administer more vaccines per day.
“The clinic will still be by appointment only, we won’t accept walk-ins. To book an appointment people can visit the online Eligibility Checker
or call Health Direct on 1800 022 222”.
“The new site is easily accessed, including for those relying on public transport, has more parking available and is a larger space so we can expand if necessary, while keeping the same focus on patient, staff and community safety.”
Professor John Germov, Charles Sturt University Interim Vice-Chancellor, said, “The health and safety of our staff, students and communities is of paramount concern to Charles Sturt University.
“As the devastating spread of Covid-19 occurring in NSW and elsewhere in Australia shows, this is no time for complacency or indifference when it comes to vaccinations.
“On behalf of the university I want to continue to encourage staff, students and all in our communities to get vaccinated when they become eligible – at this vaccination clinic, or any other certified facility.”
Paul Toole, Member for Bathurst and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, said, “This is a huge win for Bathurst, vaccination has never been more important and is our best way out of this.
“We’re all in this together and we can all play a role, so I urge everyone in Bathurst who has not already been vaccinated to take that step and book an appointment as soon as you can.
“Remember, vaccinations are not provided solely by WNSWLHD. You can also book in to get vaccinations through your GP, the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Primary Health Network and a number of pharmacies too.”
OCHRE Health is also providing vaccination services on Charles Sturt University’s campus - that service is separate to the relocated WNSWLHD clinic.
Supported by the Western NSW Local Health District, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will provide pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinics in 33 communities in 23 days, giving thousands of local residents the chance to get vaccinated.
Chief Executive of the Western NSW Local Health District, Scott McLachlan, said the operation would start in West Dubbo with a walk-in clinic opening at 9am on Saturday 21 August at Pioneer Park. That clinic will operate for nine days.
“In total there will be five mobile teams, involving at least 72 ADF personnel. Each team will be supported by healthcare workers, including Aboriginal health workers,” said Mr McLachlan.
“Over a three-week period the mobile teams will spend between one and five days in each location, offering free Covid-19 vaccinations. At the end of that initial three weeks, the teams will go back again to deliver the second dose. Both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines will be available, depending on each person’s eligibility.
“On an average day we expect that the mobile service will be able to offer up to 300 vaccinations, and in a site like West Dubbo, the capacity could be as high as 600 doses per day.
“We’ve seen the Delta strain of Covid-19 attack our communities and while the current lockdown should help, getting vaccinated is clearly our best weapon.
“Covid-19 is incredibly easy to spread and can make even healthy people very sick. If we have too many people getting sick from Covid it’s going to get in the way of our hospitals and health services taking care of everyone – whether they have Covid or need treatment for something else.
“The vaccine can help stop you getting Covid-19, and if you do get it, the vaccine will mean you’re less likely to get really sick, or pass it onto someone else.
“This is an incredible opportunity for these communities. Having the ADF involved means we can do this on a scale we couldn’t have imagined a few weeks ago.
“We’re asking everyone in these communities to not let the opportunity pass them by. People shouldn’t call their local hospitals to try and book at these clinics, they are walk-in clinics so there’s no need to book at all.
“Just get down to the clinic when it comes to town, get your first shot and come back again for your second one a few weeks later.
“If you’ve got any questions or concerns there will be people there who can help you. But please, don’t let any doubt you might have get in the way. These vaccines are safe, and really effective. Your community – including your kids and older people – needs as many people as possible to get vaccinated.”
Mr McLachlan said that vaccination hubs in Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst would also be stepping up their activities.
“Our hub sites will be expanding their hours and given the current situation in Dubbo it’s a real focus of our attention,” said Mr McLachlan.
“In addition to the pop-up clinic in West Dubbo and the expansion of hours at the hub at the Manera Plaza, we’re also going to host both a booked vaccination clinic at the Showground alongside NSW’s first drive-through clinic.
“I want to say to everyone in our District that this is a golden opportunity. If you’ve already been vaccinated, or you have an appointment coming up soon – thank you and keep those appointments by all means.
“But if you haven’t yet, keep an eye out for details about exactly where and when the ADF/WNSWLHD clinic will be in town and get down there. Encourage your family and friends to go too. We have got to use this opportunity to keep our people safe.”
ADF/WNSWLHD Vaccination Clinic locations:
Saturday 21 August - Sunday 29 August - 9am – 4.30pm
Venues and opening times to be confirmed:
Bourke - 24 August – 26 August
Warren - 23 August – 24 August
Parkes - 24 August – 26 August
Brewarrina - 27 August - 29 August
Narromine - 25 August – 26 August
Peak Hill - 27 August
Trangie - 27 August – 28 August
Forbes - 28 August – 30 August
Grawin/Sheepyard - 30 August
Nyngan - 30 August – 1 September
Grenfell - 31 August
Lightning Ridge - 31 August – 1 September
Trundle - 2 September
Dunedoo - 2 September – 4 September
Goodooga - 2 September
Condobolin - 3 September – 4 September
Mudgee - 30 August – 3 September
Canowindra - 1 September
Collarenebri - 3 September – 4 September
Rylstone - 4 September – 5 September
Eugowra - 2 September
Gulgong - 30 August – 1 September
Cowra - 3 September – 4 September
Walgett - 6 September – 8 September
Gilgandra - 11 September – 12 September
Cobar - 6 September – 8 September
Bathurst - 6 September – 10 September
Coonamble - 9 September – 10 September
Coonabarabran - 10 September – 12 September
Kandos - 6 September
Coolah - 7 September – 9 September
Orange - 6 September – 10 September
A person currently in Walgett has tested positive for Covid-19.
The person was tested on 7 August, returning a positive result today. They are considered to have potentially been infectious from 5 August. The person is also known to have been in Dubbo and Bathurst during their infectious period.
Investigations and contact tracing are underway.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is urged to come forward for testing. Additional testing capacity will be provided in Walgett from tomorrow, Thursday 12 August opening at 9am at Alex Trevallion Park, enter via Castlereagh Highway, exit to Pitt Street.
Additional testing capacity is already available in Dubbo at the Showground (enter via Wingewarra Street) and at the COVIDSAFE clinic at the Manera Plaza, 77 Myall Street.
Additional testing capacity is now available at the Mount Panorama testing clinic in Bathurst.
Dubbo Local Government Area will be subject to a stay at home order effective from 1 August to 19 August effective from 1pm today.
WNSWLHD can confirm a second case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in Dubbo. The person is a household contact of a person confirmed with Covid-19 last night. Several close contacts have been identified at this point, are in isolation and have either been tested or are having testing arranged urgently. Investigations and contact tracing are ongoing, and more close and casual contacts may be identified.
Several venues of concern have been identified further sites and more details may be added as investigations continue Anyone who was at the following venues on the dates and during the times listed is urged to immediately get tested and self-isolate until you receive further advice from NSW Health:
· Don Crosby Veterinary Surgery, 327 Darling Street Dubbo. 7 August 8:57am to 9:45am
· The Harvest Café, 64 Palmer Street Dubbo. 7 August 9:52am to 10.10am
· Ashcrofts IGA, 95 Tamworth Street Dubbo. 8 August 12:35 to 12:52pm
· Tim Koerstz Pharmacy, 98 Tamworth Street Dubbo. 9 August 1pm to 1.15pm
· Covid Safe Clinic, 77 Myall Street Dubbo. 10 August 7:45am to 8:32am
To protect the people of NSW from the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, new restrictions will be introduced for the Dubbo Local Government Area (LGA), which includes Wellington, Wongarbon, Geurie, Brocklehurst, Stuart Town, Mumbil and Eumungerie, effective from 1pm today until the beginning of 19 August 2021.
Following updated health advice from NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant, stay-at-home orders will apply to all people who live in the Dubbo LGA or have been there on or after 1 August 2021.
The rules for this area will be the same as those already in place across Greater Sydney, as well as Tamworth, Northern Rivers, Armidale, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Singleton, Dungog, Muswellbrook and Cessnock.
Everyone in these areas must stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse to leave. They also cannot have social visitors in their home from outside their household, including family and friends.
People may leave home for work, education and essential medical services and appointments.
People still can have one visitor at one time to fulfil carers' responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons, including where two people are in a relationship but do not live together.
People also cannot enter the Dubbo LGA without a reasonable excuse to do so. Dubbo residents are urged to limit their movements in the community at this time and to come forward for testing for even the mildest of symptoms.
If people have been in the Dubbo Regional LGA on or after August 1, anyone in their household should also adhere to the Stay At Home orders.
People also cannot enter the Dubbo Regional LGA without a reasonable excuse to do so. Travelling into the area solely for the purpose of being tested or vaccinated is allowed under the Public Health Order.
Additional testing capacity is available today at the Dubbo Showground drive through clinic; the COVID SAFE testing clinic at the Manera Plaza, 77 Myall Street until 4.30pm and at the Wellington Health Service until 3pm (enter via Gisborne Street).
Widespread community testing is essential at this time and due to demand substantial waits at all sites are expected. People are asked to be patient, and remain calm and respectful to staff at the testing sites.
The Western NSW Local Health District has also confirmed the detection of fragments of Covid-19 in a sewage sample taken in Bathurst on 9 August, 2021.
This means that a person who has Covid-19, or who has recently had Covid-19, has been in that community around that date. Additional testing capacity is in place at the Mount Panorama testing site. This is the first sewage detection in Bathurst.
A sewage sample taken in Mudgee on 9 August has not detected any fragments of Covid-19. This comes after detections on sample taken on 4 August. Additional testing remains available at the Australian Rural Education Centre at 267 Ulan Road until Friday.
Visitor restrictions will be implemented at both Dubbo Base and Wellington hospitals.
|No, this isn't actually my picture. I just haven't gotten around to updating this section. It's good to know that someone is reading every last word though. Thanks!