Twenty two cases have been confirmed with the COVID-19 virus in the Nepean-Blue Mountains Local Health District as new national restrictions imposed on Monday attempt to control its spread.
A Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District spokesman said "as of 8pm Sunday March 22 there are 22 people in the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District who are confirmed to have COVID-19". The Local Health District has tested 3,187 people for COVID-19 who have returned negative results.
A spokesman said staff were supporting all confirmed COVID-19 cases and had "spoken to all close contacts of confirmed cases and asked them to self-isolate for 14 days from last contact".
But the region is definitely no hot spot, with 669 confirmed cases in NSW in total, and a higher concentration of cases in northern Sydney, south eastern Sydney, south western Sydney, western Sydney and the Hunter/New England area - in part due to higher tourist numbers, a Health spokeswoman said.
The news came as hotels, clubs, cinemas, gyms, indoor sporting venues and churches joined other non-essential services closing their doors on Monday under strict new coronavirus measures. Tourism icon Scenic World announced they would shut temporarily from Tuesday, as did the Explorer Bus service. Cafes and restaurants will be restricted to home delivery and takeaway.
NSW schools are open at least to the end of the term, but parents can choose to keep children at home with virtual staff rooms being created so students can work remotely.
Mountains events are being cancelled or postponed in the wake of the pandemic. On Sunday, Blue Mountains Council announced a raft of new closures, many of which ended up being included in the new national restrictions. These include:
- Blue Mountains Hub, at Springwood, including the Customer Contact Centre. Lower Mountains residents will be able to access services and pay accounts over the phone, or online, or via cheque. Get more information at https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/.
- Katoomba Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facility
- Katoomba and Springwood Libraries. This follows the closure of Blackheath, Wentworth Falls, Lawson and Blaxland on Thursday, March 19.
- Katoomba and Springwood Leisure and Aquatic Centres from midday today (Monday), including gyms. This follows the closure of Glenbrook and Lawson pools on Thursday, 19 March.
- Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, and;
- All public halls including Wentworth Falls School of Arts and Glenbrook Cinema (Mt Vic Flicks and The Edge Cinema in Katoomba are all also closed).
COVID-19 screening clinics are at Nepean, Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and Lithgow Hospitals. Those detected and told to go into self-isolation are being contacted daily by health authorities "to check that they are well and any contact who develops COVID-19 symptoms will be tested for the infection," the spokesman said.
"Everyone can play a part in helping us contain the spread of COVID-19 by washing hands with soap and water often, using hand sanitiser, coughing and sneezing into your elbow or disposable tissue, maintain social distance and staying home if you're unwell," the Health District spokesman said. More advice is on the NSW Health website.
Mayor Mark Greenhill called on residents "to stay at home as much as possible and avoid public areas ... our strength is our community spirit, here in the Blue Mountains. We are better together and together we will get through this."