Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones outside Byron Central Hospital on Thursday, April 2. Mr Jones has praised the majority of the Northern Rivers community for adhering to new measures to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones outside Byron Central Hospital on Thursday, April 2. Mr Jones has praised the majority of the Northern Rivers community for adhering to new measures to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

MYSTERY: How did two patients catch COVID-19?

DESPITE there being no COVID-19 community transmission cases listed in the region, investigations are ongoing to determine how two Northern Rivers residents contracted the virus.

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) Chief Executive Wayne Jones said of the 54 confirmed cases on the Northern Rivers it had been determined that the vast majority had been either acquired overseas (44) or acquired interstate (4).

"Of those we have three confirmed close contacts with COVID-19 and we've identified those people by doing contact tracing," Mr Jones said.

"So there are two cases where the contact is not identified - those two continue to be contact traced - but to confirm them as community acquired would still be a bit rubbery at this stage."

He said the NNSWLHD would manage a community transmission case the same as an international transmission case.

"We would do the contact tracing with the person and backtrack to the point where the contact tracing was no longer considered pertinent," he said.

"Then we'd deal with the contact tracing and isolate people who required isolation and get them tested … the process itself won't change we just need to be as vigorous as community acquired as any other acquired case.

There were no new cases in 24 hours in the district to Tuesday at 8pm.

Mr Jones said infection rates on the North Coast were lower than most of the rest of the state because of how far the region was from the epicentres metropolitan areas - like Sydney.

"Obviously the epicentres at this point are in the metro areas and some sections of Sydney have higher risks because of clusters and density of population," he said.

"So the tyranny of distance is one aspect in our favour.

"We also implemented strategies as soon as we could, we started isolation procedures and working with our clinicians to limit risks fairly rapidly."

But he said the most important reason rates were so low was because the community had come on board and were following the current restrictions.

"While there are individual exceptions of people who, for what ever reasons, are ignoring the greater good and putting themselves outside those isolation restrictions, the vast majority of the community are supporting the restrictions and that reduces our rate," he said.

He said as a community the Northern Rivers was doing "an excellent job" in helping to flatten the curve."

"There are some exceptions, which is always disappointing, but that shouldn't detract away from the fantastic efforts the vast majority are making," he said.

"The reality is it's difficult, social isolation, distancing and restrictions in what we normally do with our lives is very challenging for people.

"The majority of the community have taken them on board and I congratulate them and wholeheartedly thank them."


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