Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Will NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet follow in Berejiklian & Barilaro's footsteps and abandon the state government's public health responsibilities for regional New South Wales?

When on 16 July 2021 the NSW Coalition Government discovered that the Delta Variant of SARS-CoV-2 had entered Australia, the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) covering 7 local government areas in north-east New South Wales had not had a confirmed locally acquired case of COVID-19 infection in its resident population for 107 consecutive days.

There was no community transmission of this highly infectious, lethal disease in any of those seven council areas.

Even after then Premier Gladys Berejiklian, then Deputy Premier & Minister for Regional New South Wales John Barilaro, Health Minister Brad Hazzard, then Treasurer Dominic Perrottet began to pressure their own Crisis Cabinet and conspire with Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook (NSW) Scott Morrison and the big business sector to impose ‘living with Covid’ on the state population, north-east NSW still managed to identify and contain infected people who came into the region from elsewhere. So the region continued to have no local community transmission for another 58 days.  Right  up to 13 September 2021 when a local family who had taken a trip to Greater Sydney brought the virus back with them.

Since then - under multiple tweeks to the public health order which have allowed more mobility in the population generally, demonstrated a growing government aversion to lock downs, exposed a weakening of the test, trace, isolate & quarantine system and revealed a less than transparent NSW Coalition Government - the NNSWLHD has gone from 72 historical COVID-19 cases over the first 13 months of the pandemic (none of which were active after the end of March 2021) to 38 active cases in the last 21 days up to 4 October 2021.

New confirmed locally acquired COVID-19 cases are now being reported daily within the local health district borders.

And with only five days left to the first stage of opening up the state, these seven north-east NSW local government areas have fully vaccinated percentages in their respective populations which by 3 October were still way below the NSW 70% fully vaccinated target set for Monday 11 September 2021:

Tweed Heads LGA - 52.5%

Ballina LGA - 57.8%

Byron Bay LGA - 41.6%

Kyogle LGA - 50.3%

Richmond Valley LGA - 49.8%

Lismore LGA - 47.0%

Clarence Valley LGA - 50.3%

[Australian Government, Operation COVID Shield, 4 October 2021]

The public health risk that these percentages reveal was the reason a cross party letter, from all five state members of parliament whose electorates cover these seven LGAs, was sent to the then Premier & Deputy Premier on 23 September 2021 asking them “to adjust public health orders….by restricting non-essential travel to the North Coast until it too has reached the milestone”.

It is obvious Berejiklian and Barilaro didn’t really give a damn about regional New South Wales, but will Perrottet? 

After all, like Berejiklian, Perrottet’s private residence & electoral office fall within faraway metropolitan local government areas which have exceeded that 70% fully vaccinated population target.

On his first day in office Perrottet has answered that question. According to The Australian  he "will reshape his crisis cabinet to prioritise economic recovery and community wellbeing over day-to-day emergency management in one of his first acts as NSW Premier".

It is apparently Perrottet's intention to allow the SARS-CoV-2 virus in all its forms to run wild in New South Wales.

This is only the start of our region's woes.....

NSW Health, Northern NSW Local Health District, media release, 5 October 2021:

There have been six cases of COVID-19 reported in the Northern NSW Local Health District to 8pm yesterday, Monday 4 October.

Five cases are in Casino area of the Richmond Valley Local Government Area (LGA), and one case is in the Kyogle LGA.

Of these six cases, three are household contacts of confirmed cases who had been self-isolating, one is linked to a public exposure location and the source of the remaining two cases is under investigation.

Investigations are continuing into any possible public venues of concern relating to these cases and other cases reported in recent days, and more information will be provided as soon as it’s available.

NSW Health does not disclose details about venues unless there is a public health reason to do so.

There have now been 38 total cases confirmed in Northern NSW since 16 June when the current Delta outbreak in Sydney began. One case is being cared for in hospital, and is in a stable condition.

Stay-at-home orders are in place for Lismore LGA, Casino, and Kyogle LGA until 11 October due to an increased COVID-19 public health risk.

Everyone in these areas must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason, which includes shopping for food, medical care, getting vaccinated, compassionate needs, exercise and work or tertiary education if you can’t work or study at home.

Anyone with even the slightest symptoms should get tested as soon as they feel unwell. There are more than 500 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW. Find a clinic at COVID-19 testing clinics or contact your GP.

We encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are able to. Find available bookings at the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder (previously eligibility checker), or you can also call Health Direct on 1800 571 155 for assistance to book. 


NSW Health appears to be no longer focussing on cumulative COVID-19 infection numbers in local health districts but on current "active" cases. COVID-19 cases will remain statistically active for 14 days after a confirmed diagnosis or until an infected individual is released from hospital - after which they will no longer appear in daily reports.

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