• Tony Bosworth

Quick explainer – Hawkesbury COVID numbers

We’ve had a number of readers concerned that as COVID numbers in the Hawkesbury continue to rise they feel they are only getting half the story – in other words they see the numbers but are not being told specifically where the cases are.

So, we’ve put together this quick explainer to show how the NSW Health numbers work.

Where does Hawkesbury Post get its daily numbers from?

We only use NSW Health numbers, which are updated every day around midday.

So there’s one source?

Not exactly, and that’s where part of the issue arises. If you go here you can see the official figures for the last four weeks. At the moment – Tuesday morning – it says there are 9 known COVID cases in the Hawkesbury and 8 of them are from sources unknown – which means NSW Health currently do not know how or where 8 of them got the virus.

You can also choose to see how many cases are in the local health district – which in our case is Nepean Blue Mountains so includes Nepean area and Blue Mountains cases lumped in with Hawkesbury.

Okay, I understand that but you said there was another source?

Yes, if you go here – the NSW government site - you can get Hawkesbury suburb numbers and that reveals there are some 14 active cases in the Hawkesbury at the moment – almost double the number above. Why is there that discrepancy? Because if you hover over the map you will see they ‘package’ some suburbs together. Agnes Banks, for example, is part in the Hawkesbury LGA and part in Penrith – which has high cases – and Cattai is part in Hawkesbury and part in Hills District, which also has some high case numbers.

And if you look at Richmond it says there are no cases, but we know there are because of the confirmed numbers at care homes, for example.

I want to know if there is a case near me – how can I get that detail?

You can’t. NSW Health do not release that level of information – that’s partly down to individuals’ privacy. The nearest you might get to that level of information is when NSW Health announce a ‘venue of concern’ as they have done in the recent past for Windsor Riverside shopping centre, for example.

You’re reported on cases at Hawkesbury Hospital but NSW Health hasn’t mentioned it – is it true?

Yes it is true. We know our story is correct because Hawkesbury Hospital confirmed it to us and then put a media release out. They put another one out yesterday after we asked if there were any more positive cases – there was one more patient case. Similarly, we talk to care homes across the Hawkesbury and that’s why we put a story up about the case – and now cases – at Hawkesbury Living. That too has not been mentioned by NSW Health but it’s been confirmed by the home’s CEO. This is us doing our job as journalists.

But I need to know if it’s in my street, or which places to avoid

That’s a perfectly normal reaction but it doesn’t look like that very specific information is going to be available from NSW Health, except when they publish and update their ‘venues of concern’. And just this morning, NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty said they had stopped listing venues in the Greater Sydney area - which includes the Hawkesbury - where there are many venues but little risk, he says - which at this stage would include the Hawkesbury, so we're not going to get much local information from NSW Health. In a nod to the way the virus is rapidly spreading, NSW Health is increasingly focussing on listing venues in regional areas instead.

I get all the news I need through social media

You can get a lot of things through social media but proper fact-checked news is not one of them, not unless you’re plugged into a page like ours. Of course, at Hawkesbury Post we get ideas for stories through social media and often people tip us off to stories that way, but we never post anything until we have checked it out and made sure it is correct – that’s why proper journalists and the publications they write for are vitally important during emergencies like this one.

When will it end?

That’s a good question and we don’t think anyone knows the answer to that just yet, but perhaps a better way of looking at it is to follow the advice of Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant who says, assume you may have COVID and assume anyone you come into contact with may have the virus too. Stay at home and when venturing out only for shopping follow COVID safe rules, do not browse and do not stop to chat. And get vaccinated.

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