• Wiradjuri Elder Uncle Frank 'Riverbank' Doolan urged the Dubbo community to heed the health advice. (Facebook: Dugald Saunders MP)Source: Facebook: Dugald Saunders MP
New South Wales announces a record 466 new COVID-19 cases, as health authorities in the state’s west deal with a sharp rise in infections in Aboriginal communities.
Jodan Perry, Lindy Kerin

14 Aug 2021 - 1:46 PM  UPDATED 14 Aug 2021 - 4:40 PM

The Mayor of Dubbo has pleaded with the Aboriginal community to speak up about the risks of COVID-19 as the cluster in Western New South Wales significantly increased overnight.

Until 9am this morning, Dubbo recorded 16 new cases of the virus, with another case confirmed in Walgett. A further case was announced in Wellington by the NSW government at the daily 11am media conference.

It was again confirmed the majority of cases are Aboriginal people, including children and young people.

Several new locations were added to the NSW Health website overnight, including the Bawrunga Aboriginal Medical Service on Brisbane Street, with an exposure time of 4:45-5:45pm on Wednesday August 4.

Sewage testing also confirmed traces of the virus in Parkes and Bourke.

The state recorded 466 new locally acquired cases and four more people died of the virus.

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Dubbo Mayor Stephen Lawrence again reinforced the health advice to stay at home and called upon members of the cities’ Aboriginal community to speak up.

“Really, really important for the Aboriginal community to be strong advocates, as they have been, on this issue,” he said.

“If you are Aboriginal in West Dubbo, you can help by contacting your family and friends, especially people that might not be hearing these important health messages. Speak to your family, explain to them the urgent need to stay home.

“There’s been great reactions from leaders, Elders, sportspeople making social media videos, contributing to media, speaking out loudly to their community.

Riverbank Frank’s message

Wiradjuri Elder Uncle Frank Doolan, or ‘Riverbank Frank’ as he is known, is featured in one of a range of videos produced by the Dubbo Regional Council. to stress the seriousness of the situation.

“This is a time of great uncertainty, it’s a time when it’s easy to be fearful. It’s a time when it would be easy to listen to rumour and innuendo, rather than fact,” he said.

“Get our health messages from our health workers at the local Aboriginal Medical Centre or from your doctor. Stay as close as we can to our own home and do not visit or socialise with other people in the way that you normally would.

“These are not normal times; a lockdown is brought about for a reason. It’s not to punish people, it’s to protect people. And we need to realise this is the case.

"If the police pull you up on the street it’s because they have a job to do, and part of that job is ensuring that you stay alive. 

“COVID-19 at this point in time is moving like wildfire through the Dubbo community, and in particular, the Indigenous community. I would urge my people, any of you out there, to stay home as much as you can.”

The ‘worst situation’

The New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has described the state’s latest figures as ‘very concerning’.

After recording more than 2000 fresh cases in the past week, Saturday's number has set a new record with 466 new locally acquired cases.

“This is the worst situation New South Wales has been in since day one. And it's also regrettably because of that, the worst situation Australia's been in.”

The state has also recorded four more deaths, a woman in her 40s, a man in his 70s, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s.

NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer Jeremy McAnulty detailed the current status of COVID patients. 

“Seventy-eight patients with COVID are in hospital, 64 are in intensive care, and 29, require ventilation. And again, we're seeing a range of ages including relatively young people in intensive care four in their 20s, 16 in their 30s and seven are in the 40s,” he said.

Criticism of regional vaccine rollout

Drilled about the rollout at Saturday’s media conference, the New South Wales Premier said the Federal government had sent pfizer doses to western parts of the state in the last 48 hours.

“It is really important for us to acknowledge that we need vaccination as a key tool in fighting this.

“This is literally a war and we know it has been a war for some time but never to this extent.”

“We're doing our best to get those jobs in arms, we're stepping up, even though the New South Wales Government didn't have the responsibility to do this we've stepped up we've made sure we've made it our responsibility to keep our citizens alive and as safe as possible.”

But the Northern Territory Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy slammed the rollout for western NSW describing it a “disgrace.”

“First Nations people were in the vulnerable category. We are calling on PM to get the vaccine out there now and make sure the mob be priority,” she wrote on Twitter.

Aboriginal children among new COVID-19 infections in Western NSW
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