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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

COVID FRAGMENTS DETECTED IN BYRON WASTEWATER

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COVID FRAGMENTS DETECTED IN BYRON WASTEWATER
COVID FRAGMENTS DETECTED IN BYRON WASTEWATER

COVID FRAGMENTS DETECTED IN BYRON WASTEWATER

​NSW Health has been notified of a sewage detection of virus fragments in Byron Bay.

In a statement, NSW Health said its ongoing sewage surveillance program has detected fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 at the sewage treatment plant at Bryon Bay.

The sewage treatment plant serves about 19,000 people in Byron Bay, Wategos, Suffolk Park, Sunrise, and Broken Head.

There are no known cases in this area, which is of great concern.

NSW Health is asking everyone in the area,

“ .. to be especially vigilant for symptoms, and if they appear, to immediately come forward for testing and isolate until a negative result is received.  If symptoms appear again, please be tested and isolate again.” NSW Health statement read.

COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

LOCALS’ CONCERNS ABOUT THE COVID-POSITIVE CASES AT CHINDERAH AS NSW HEALTH CONFIRMS “SEVERAL PEOPLE” ARE ISOLATING IN ORGANISED ACCOMMODATION

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two COVID-19 positive cases detected at the Ampol Northbound Service Station at Chinderah last week were not truck drivers as widely assumed
Two COVID-19 positive cases detected at the Ampol Northbound Service Station at Chinderah last week were not truck drivers as widely assumed

LOCALS’ CONCERNS ABOUT THE COVID-POSITIVE CASES AT CHINDERAH AS NSW HEALTH CONFIRMS “SEVERAL PEOPLE” ARE ISOLATING IN ORGANISED ACCOMMODATION

by Margaret Dekker

There’s mounting concern across the Tweed Valley the two COVID-19 positive cases detected at the Ampol Northbound Service Station at Chinderah last week were not truck drivers as widely assumed.

An initial alert from NSW Health stated the pair had attended the “Chinderah truck stop” overnight.

Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase told The Northern Rivers Times he’s been contacted by a number of people in the Tweed concerned about the identities of the COVID-positive pair and what they were doing at the service station between 8:30pm on Tuesday, July 13 and 7:30am on Wednesday July 14.

“Maybe there’s a bigger issue here than is being let on, and NSW Health is keeping a lid on it until it gets all the test results back,” Cr Polglase said.

Cr Polglase also said of the 40 people contacted by NSW Health for testing, some were from Murwillumbah.  He believes residents of Far North NSW have a right to know if they are at heightened risk.

“If it was mentioned there was an issue or concern, awareness would increase dramatically he said.”

In a statement, Acting Chief Executive Northern NSW Local Health District, Lynne Weir said

“There are currently no confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents of Northern NSW Local Health District, nor any confirmed cases isolating here.

Several people are completing their 14 days of isolation in accommodation arranged by NSW Health with the assistance of NSW Police and the North Coast Public Health Unit, after being identified as close contacts at the Ampol Service Station in Chinderah at the same time as positive COVID-19 cases.

The accommodation has been arranged so that the individuals have suitable accommodation to be able to isolate properly.

These isolation accommodation arrangements provide a secure and supportive environment for these guests.

All guests will undergo the required testing during isolation, and will receive regular wellbeing checks from NSW Health,” the statement by Lynne Weir, A/Chief Executive Northern NSW Local Health District said.

A spokesperson from NSW Health said owing to privacy, NSW Health does not comment on individual cases and unless there is reason for the community to be concerned, it will not be providing further comment.

But Cr Polglase said the community is concerned.

“People want to know where these people in isolation are, are they in a house next to me?  The state government should be honest and clear in their interpretation as to what is taking place,” Cr Polglase said.

“We basically need to know what is going on from Gladys Berejiklian,” he said.

Cr Polglase said he was particularly concerned given the Tweed Shire’s ageing population who he believed would be on tenterhooks.

Federal Labor member for Richmond Justine Elliot told The Northern Rivers Times “everything” about the handling of this COVID-19 exposure site concerns her.

“Everything about it concerns me, the lack of information about where the infected pair were before they were at the service station, where they went afterwards, we have no answers on that,” Justine Elliot said.

“All the close contacts, have any tested positive, how many are in quarantine, and what are the specifics of the quarantine and is it secure?” she asked.

Justin Elliot described it as a “massive fail” by the NSW Government to provide crucial information to residents of northern NSW and called on the NSW Government to come clean, given the detail provided on other COVID-19 exposure sites in the state.

She said the Tweed’s vulnerable situation also illustrated the need for a dedicated ‘Border Zone’ to better protect the people of northern NSW.

“It is just inexcusable, treating our community with such contempt, I call on Tweed MP Geoff Provest to respond,” Justine Elliot said.

Member for Tweed Geoff Provest told The Northern Rivers Times he had spoken to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Wednesday afternoon asking for more detail about the accommodation “several people” are now isolating in after the Chinderah exposure site, and added he was also concerned.

“I will have more details for the public on Thursday morning,” Geoff Provest, Member for Tweed, said.

 

 

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

MASKING THE GREAT COMMUNITY DIVIDE ON COVID

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MASKING THE GREAT COMMUNITY DIVIDE ON COVID
The unidentified ‘No Mask’ poster appearing in some businesses in the Northern Rivers

MASKING THE GREAT COMMUNITY DIVIDE ON COVID

By Margaret Dekker

Community stalwarts say tensions are growing across the Northern Rivers as some businesses opt out of enforcing public health orders on masks and QR code sign-ins in their shops and cafes, instead displaying alternative signs.

Across Byron and Tweed shires, the poster “No Mask, We Don’t Ask” has gone up (pictured) in shop windows and on shop walls, advising,

“To our valued customers. The NSW government has mandated mask use indoors but please be aware if you’re not wearing one we will assume you’re exempt, no questions asked.  We don’t do judgements, shaming or discrimination here, so please know you will be warmly welcomed and respected however you show up,” it reads.

The poster doesn’t make clear who has written, authorised or distributed it.

Long-time local campaigner and Flattening the Curve spokesperson, Nicqui Yazdi, told The Northern Rivers Times she knows firsthand of the hostility the posters have caused.  She says in Bangalow, an unidentified woman tried to put one up in the window of café Butcher and Baker without permission.  The woman, who wasn’t wearing a mask, was told to leave but the attempt left staff fuming.

In Byron Bay, clothing store Nikau was among the first to place the sign in its Fletcher Street window (pictured) they’re in windows in Mullumbimby including Eden’s Landing Health Foods and Lulu’s café and on the Tweed Coast, Nectar juice bar at Cabarita Beach displays the poster.

On its social media page, Nectar posted,

“Whilst we are taking the current Covid situation very seriously and our staff are wearing masks for yours and our safety – we do not know your situation.  If you choose not to wear one, that is your prerogative.  Everyone is welcome in our café,” Nectar’s facebook page read to mixed responses from followers.

Nicqui Yadzi, who lives in Mullumbimby, says on the streets, public displays of personal opinions about COVID -19 are going too far.  She says a local woman, a distinguished artist, was verbally abused by a busker because of wearing her mask.  The ordeal left the woman shaken and reluctant to go out again.

“That s-it should not happen” Nicqui said.

“Everyone who lives in Mullumbimby is a part of the community who recognised each other’s differences and carried the same soul but since COVID, that’s just been ripped apart,” she said.

Nicqui knows of family relationships, old friends and friendship groups that are strained because of conflicting views about the pandemic, and public health orders.

But it’s Mullumbimby’s national reputation that’s getting hardest hit and stigmatised she says, despite many people in the ‘Biggest Little Town in Australia’ in fact elderly and conservative,

“People in Queensland are reading articles about Mullumbimby and it’s now being seen in a bad light and yet anti-vaxxers are a minority but a vocal, loud minority.  Mullum still is old school and old conservative Mullumbimby is finding it really hard,” Nicqui Yazdi said.

 

 

 

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Business News

BYRON BUSINESSES RALLY BEHIND LOCAL BUYING CAMPAIGN AS TOURIST TRADE SLUMPS

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BYRON BUSINESSES RALLY BEHIND LOCAL BUYING CAMPAIGN AS TOURIST TRADE SLUMPS
BYRON BUSINESSES RALLY BEHIND LOCAL BUYING CAMPAIGN AS TOURIST TRADE SLUMPS

BYRON BUSINESSES RALLY BEHIND LOCAL BUYING CAMPAIGN AS TOURIST TRADE SLUMPS

By Margaret Dekker

A group of Byron Bay traders met last Friday to discuss a slump in trade in the iconic tourist town due to plummeting tourist numbers and foot traffic.

Katie Munro from clothing label Arnhem told The Northern Rivers Times talk is rife among traders about concerns over in-store sales falling across an array of businesses in the community.  In her conversations with other local businesses there are reports of revenue dropping by as much as 60 percent.

“People were buying last year, but with fear and the ongoing uncertainty about the virus, this year buying habits have shifted to what is essential,” Katie Munro said.

“And there’s no one in town,” she said.

The irony of the situation, Katie says, is while Byron Shire property prices are booming and millions of dollars are being injected into real estate, the big spending is not being replicated in local tills.

And despite mounting requests from shop tenants, commercial landlords are firmly refusing rent relief on Byron Bay shopfronts which can average around $2,000 a week on the premium strips.

In a united effort to stem the engulfing tide, Byron Bay retailers and restaurateurs have begun a new ‘Love for Locals’ campaign, rewarding shoppers from the Shire with experiences and store discounts, and special offers and deals between traders.  ‘Love for Locals’ is being pitched at old and new ‘Byronians’ in an effort to “get the town going again.”

“.. Conversations have started around buying local, not giving our dollar to big multinational companies .. We can make an impact if we stop and consider every little spending decision we make,” Katie Munro said.

With news late last week of virus fragments detected in Byron Bay wastewater, and a new alert over a COVID-19 positive person landing in Ballina from Sydney on July 14, the mood has shifted again with Byron Bay last weekend likened to ‘a Ghost Town.’

But Katie Munro says there is also energy and optimism stirring as traders collaborate with other local businesses and begin embedding new behaviours with a focus on supporting local; to move from ‘struggling’ to surviving and thriving ‘during these strange times.’

“Conversations have started. There’s a movement, momentum among local traders, we can get through this again.” Katie Munro said.

 

 

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