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Adam Marshall’s COVID-19 update, as at April 23

As of today, April 23, there are now just four current confirmed COVID-19 cases within the Northern Tablelands – two in Armidale, one in Inverell and one from Moree, although this person has been in Tamworth Hospital since testing positive.

Pleasingly, in the past 24 hours, we have had three more people declared ‘recovered’ – two from Inverell and one from the Uralla district. This takes the total number of people recovered from COVID-19 so far in the Northern Tablelands to six.

With regard to the two current cases in Armidale, both individuals are employees of the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS), working out of the same office.

Last Friday, the second case was discovered and the office was shut down immediately before undergoing forensic cleaning over the next 24 hours. The remaining 19 staff in that office were retested for COVID-19 with 17 testing negative and two testing positive.

Authorities have reason to believe the two positive cases were actually false-positives, and we are now awaiting to hear the results of secondary testing on those two people, who are both in quarantine. The rest of the FaCS staff have returned to work and the office has reopened.

Looking at what is happening across the State, it was pleasing to hear the Premier announce that yesterday (Wednesday, 22 April), more than 5,600 people were tested for coronavirus, with only five new cases detected. This again highlights the fact the restrictions which are in place, though frustrating, are having a result. 

I also think these figures show just how important it is for testing to continue to be undertaken in regional areas, in particular in those communities which are yet to have a confirmed case. The State’s medical experts are relying on the information gathered through increased testing to inform measures to manage the illness moving forward.

Again, I say if you are someone who has any of the four key symptoms of COVID-19, fever, cough, runny nose or shortness of breath you should contact your GP or ring HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 to organise a test.

This week the plans were announced for the staged return of students to school during Term 2. The first two weeks of Term 2, commencing Wednesday 29 April, will mirror what took place at the end of Term 1 with children undertaking online learning at home. From week three of Term 2, every student will be attending school for one day a week on a roster type basis.

The specific days students will be required to attend school each week will be clearly communicated to parents by their individual schools. During the first stage of on-campus learning, parents will be encouraged to keep their children home except on their allocated day of face-to-face learning.

Over the term the number of days students will attend school will increase in a staged way with the hope all children will be back at school full-time by Term 3.

This staged return to school may cause some confusion during its early implementation and I urge parents to be patient, cooperate and communicate with their schools during the process.

Finally, I want to thank everyone one who has contributed to the Northern Tablelands Business Directory. My staff are putting together these lists in local government areas and I expect to be able to publish them early next week.

Until next time stay safe and stay home.

Adam