NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant has given the strongest signal yet the COVID-19 outbreak in Albury-Wodonga could run for at least another two weeks with an even stronger focus mounted on limiting cases in school aged children.
Professor Chant's visit to the Border yesterday coincided with the first death at Albury hospital from COVID-19, as well as the death of another resident at Mercy aged care home.
It was also the Border's worst day yet in the current outbreak, with our highest daily tally of 91 cases for Albury-Wodonga, and a total of four deaths.
She urged Border and North East parents to put a stop to sleepovers and parties in the short-term to assist the halt of the virus spread.
Professor Chant also sat in on an emergency management committee meeting and remained confident the right strategies were in place to get on top of the outbreak.
But her strongest message was to hit pause on activities outside of school.
"We just want to minimise the interactions," she said.
"Obviously people have close friends, but let's not extend those out into big sleepovers, parties, for the next couple of weeks, just so we can suppress it and we can have time to mop up that last group of immunisations.
"Vaccines work very well and the 12 years and above age group they will be highly protected rapidly after a couple of doses. We just need that time to get it into them."
Her Victorian counterpart, Brett Sutton, said transmission was occurring in Albury-Wodonga among those not fully vaccinated.
"So again we need to call out if you haven't yet received a vaccine and you're in Wodonga or Albury please come forward now it's not too late, it's never too late," he said.
The Border Mail can also confirm the Gateway Lakes events precinct will be announced as the replacement testing site for Wodonga racecourse.
It could be in operation by the middle of next week.
Professor Chant played down the need for a circuit-breaker lockdown which has been repeatedly called for by border medical professionals on social media.
"We need to understand we've got a lot of controls in place," she said.
"Only vaccinated people are allowed and permitted to go to a number of settings and we've got indoor mask wearing.
"When I've been walking around (watching people) accessing breakfast and a couple of other things, people have been very diligent.
"We don't preclude anything, but it's just about us again being proportionate.
"Our main focus now is finding undiagnosed cases, isolating those and getting vaccination coverage up as high as we can.
"I'm confident there are plans and the priorities are there to further drive vaccination coverage and make testing easing."
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