• A man has died in Dubbo. The regional city has the biggest number of confirmed COVID cases in western NSW. (NSW Health)Source: NSW Health
With the entire state of NSW in lockdown and the growing COVID crisis in the west, sewage testing shows signs the virus has moved into more remote areas.
Lindy Kerin, Karen Michelmore

15 Aug 2021 - 2:49 PM  UPDATED 15 Aug 2021 - 2:51 PM

A child was hospitalised amid the worsening western NSW COVID outbreak, with a further 21 new cases and signs it has spread to Bourke.

The child, who has since been discharged, is one of a total of 63 active cases across the western NSW region. There are 59 in the major centre of Dubbo, and four in Walgett. The majority are Aboriginal people, mostly children.

“This is another sobering day and really concerning situation for us,” said Scott McLaughlin, the CEO of the Western NSW Health.

“The vast majority of our cases in Dubbo and across western NSW are Aboriginal and the vast majority of our cases are children. We sadly have one admission to hospital overnight in a child."

NSW Health would not confirm to NITV News if the hospitalised child was Aboriginal.

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Director of Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing with western NSW Health Brendan Cutmore said the virus was spreading among children.

The Gamilaroi and Yorta Yorta man urged people to stay home to help protect everyone in the community from Elders to young people.

“Some of the spread that we're seeing is amongst the children in our community, and we need to protect our children as much as we need to protect our Elders,” he told reporters in Dubbo.

“For our kids, our little ones that are running around, and they love playing footy with each other, love playing chasings out the front, they love riding their bikes, etc. Our kids have got to stay at home.

“I really need to encourage everybody to stay in their home.”

Vaccine callout and support available

Wiradjuri/Wailwan lawyer Teela Reid, who is in Dubbo and liaising with members of the town’s Aboriginal community, has called on western NSW communities to come forward for vaccination.

"Right now we must do everything in our power to support our young ones, to ensure we pull them through this tough time,” Ms Reid said.

“That means protecting ourselves to stop the spread. Get vaccinated and send love to those we know are experiencing these tough times.”

There has been a further 4500 tests in Dubbo, and 7500 in total across the wider region.

Aboriginal mobile testing teams are available to visit home where people cannot get to sites.

Aboriginal Health workers are delivering food and medical supplies to those families with confirmed cases.

NSW Health's Brendan Cutmore urged people to get support if they’re struggling.

“Please don't be too proud in terms of reaching out and asking for help,” he said.

“If you're struggling and you want some help and you need someone to have a conversation with, we've got some specialists people here that can help.”

Calls for vaccination rate transparency

NSW recorded 415 new cases in total, with four deaths.

The apparent spread of the virus further into regional areas, with sewage detection in Bourke, Lennox Head, Parkes and Wallacia, sparked the snap lockdown of the entire state for seven days last night.

In Sydney, Blackdown and Mt Druitt also remain suburbs of high concern, along with Merrylands, Auburn, Guilford and Marayong.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said western NSW remains a concern. 

“Getting vaccines to them is critical at this point in time,” she said.

Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has called for transparency on First Nations vaccination rates, saying the government needs to public daily updates on vaccination rates and availability.

“With questions about the capacity of local health facilities to meet any potential outbreak – this is a tragedy waiting to happen,” Ms Burney said.

Just eight percent of First Nations people in the western NSW region are fully vaccinated – well below the national rate.

In Wilcannia yesterday, the Royal Flying Doctor Service assisted in getting 320 people vaccinated.

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