Community urged to step up in fight against COVID


Bourke Shire Council General Manager Mark Riley encourages people to politely remind anyone not wearing a mask indoors to put one one. PHOTO TWH

The local community dodged a COVID bullet with subsequent testing by NSW Health last week showing there were no further virus fragments in the sewage system.

Bourke was on high alert after COVID fragments were detected on June 22, but two more tests returned a negative result.

Bourke Shire Council General Manager, Mark Riley, said the positive test result was a reminder to the community that COVID remained a risk and he urged people to be vigilant about using the QR code, washing their hands and practising social distancing.

“There was a heightened sense of anxiety in the community last week following the release of the alert,” Mr Riley said.

“It was great to get the ‘all clear’ from the two subsequent samples after the first sample returned a positive result and full marks to the Local Health District for setting up the drive-through COVID testing centre at Davidson Oval so quickly.

“Council has had subsequent discussions with the LHD about messaging, with people being told to get tested if they have mild symptoms.

“Why wait? Council wanted to encourage all people to get tested not just those with symptoms, and I think that should be in the messaging.

“After all our political leaders and health advisors talk about the need for high testing rates.

“In a place like Sydney you can’t test eight million people, but in small, remote, rural communities like Bourke it makes sense to have everyone tested.

“Dubbo and Orange have drive-through clinics where anyone can get tested, so we raised that and we’ll see what comes out of those discussions.

“Hopefully, we don’t have any more alerts and we can keep COVID out of Bourke. We are not in shutdown, Bourke is open for business and it’s fair to say that through police and local shop keepers and business owners, QR readers and other protocols are in place.

“It will eventually become compulsory to use QR readers for tracing, so it makes sense to get used to it now,” he said.

Mr Riley also encouraged members of the community to politely remind anyone not wearing a mask indoors to put them on.

“No-one is above this – you should be able to tell your boss or politely say to people that they should think about putting their mask on. COVID doesn’t discriminate, so let’s do the right thing and keep everyone safe.”

Mr Riley also raised concerns about confusing messaging around vaccinations.

“The best thing to do is talk to your GP who will advise you of your best option,” Mr Riley said.