Byron Central Hospital on Ewingsdale Road just off the Pacific Motorway. Picture: Marc Stapelberg
Byron Central Hospital on Ewingsdale Road just off the Pacific Motorway. Picture: Marc Stapelberg

TWO NEW CASES: Seven coronavirus patients in Northern NSW


TWO new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Northern NSW have been confirmed on Monday afternoon.

In the Northern NSW Local Health District there are now seven confirmed cases.

Six of the seven confirmed cases are in self-isolation at home and one case is being cared for in hospital.

The health district recently established a COVID-19 flu clinic at Grafton Base Hospital, which is open from 10am to 6pm daily.

Existing flu clinics at The Tweed Hospital and Lismore Base Hospital are continuing, also open from 10am to 6pm daily.

These clinics are for those most at risk with respiratory symptoms or fever, those returning from overseas or in contact with a COVID-19 case, or for health workers.

"It is vital that these respiratory clinics are not overwhelmed with people who are not in the high risk groups, which could result in delays identifying those most vulnerable," Northern NSW Health District Chief Executive Wayne Jones said.

In a bid to further reduce the spread of the virus through the community, the health district is now restricting visitors at all hospitals to two per patient.

"This is an evolving situation, and this advice may change at short notice," Mr Jones said.

"Visitors, carers and family members should speak with the nurse in charge about any extenuating circumstances."

He emphasised that other patients and visitors are not at any extra risk when visiting a hospital that is caring for patients with COVID-19.

Hospitals have strict infection control and hygiene practices, and the health district has implemented additional precautions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, questions were raised via social media over the health district's capacity to cope with cases at smaller hospitals within the region.

Mr Jones confirmed the health district has plans in place to accommodate patients requiring hospitalisation for COVID-19.

"All hospitals in the district have the capacity to care for some level of COVID-19 illness if required," Mr Jones said.

"All our hospitals operate as part of a connected network, and patients will be cared for at the facility that meets the level of treatment they require.

"We are taking a phased approach, where the first phase of cases will be cared for at Lismore Base Hospital. If further hospitalisations arise, the second phase of patients would be cared for at The Tweed Hospital, and the third phase at Grafton Base Hospital if required. These plans include the separation of COVID-19 patients from other Intensive Care patients within the unit."