At least one case of COVID-19 in Tenterfield Shire was acquired locally from an unknown source

FRUSTRATED: Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty said he thinks the information given to local government area managers could be better.
FRUSTRATED: Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty said he thinks the information given to local government area managers could be better.

Local health district Hunter New England Health (HNEH) has confirmed there are two cases of COVID-19 in Tenterfield and according to the NSW Health COVID-19 update website at least one of those infections was locally acquired from an unknown source.

Tenterfield Mayor Peter Petty said he had received no more information from HNEH and did not know if those affected were from the town itself or the wider shire.

"We do have 7300 square kilometres of area, and it's not good enough," he said.

Australian Community Media understands the people involved are self-isolating, but HNEH will not confirm this - citing patient privacy laws.

Mr Petty said he feels frustrated by the lack of detail provided to him by HNEH but said he had not yet spoken with either them or local police.

"We expect better communication because we are the local government area and it is important for them to be supportive of the community and let us know if these cases are self-isolating at home or in a medical facility," he said.

It's about relationships and working together

Tenterfield Mayor Peter Petty

"We have regular phone hookups every Monday (and we will have more if we need to) with the Tenterfield Hospital manager and the CEO, the deputy mayor and myself have those hookups, and we will continue with those hookups.

"It's about relationships and working together."

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin, whose electorate encompasses two local health districts, said she received more information from Northern NSW LHD about confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Lismore and Tweed LGAs than from HNEH LHD regarding Tenterfield.

"In the Northern NSW side - the other part of my electorate - I do know if cases are at home or in a medical facility," Ms Saffin said.

"I think the public do want to know because people feel more assured when they know, but I just come back to this - we know it's here so stay home if you can."

It would be nice to have updates and information but just assume that it's in your area

MP Janelle Saffin

"It would be nice to have updates and information but just assume that it's in your area and make sure you socially distance yourself and do all the things you have to do.

"It's in NSW, and it's clearly in our electorate, so let's just act accordingly no matter what we know and don't know."

HNEH LHD executive director of operations rural and regional Susan Heyman said there was clear policy and advice from the ministry regarding the release of COVID-19 patient information and she was adhering to that.

Other districts have made other choices, and I can't be responsible for them

HNEH Executive Director Operations Regional and Rural Susan Heyman

"Other districts have made other choices, and I can't be responsible for them," she said.

Duty Officer for Tenterfield, Inspector Matthew Hemsworth, said the tracing of infection and finding possible contacts was a NSW Health issue, and HNEH was in charge of releasing any information about confirmed cases. However, he was confident local police were ensuring any compliance required.

"As of midnight yesterday we have additional powers under the public health act, and we can enforce self-isolation, mass gathering and social distancing rules," he said.

"There are mechanisms in place for police through local health districts to find out who has COVID-19 in the community, their location, and who is self-isolating.

we definitely know the details we need to and the police have no issues with people not self-isolating

Tenterfield Duty Officer Inspector Matthew Hemsworth

"As it is now, we definitely know the details we need to and the police have no issues with people not self-isolating across our district which includes Tenterfield, Glen Innes and Armidale areas.

"We are not aware of anyone not abiding by those rules."

Earlier today HNEH announced the total number of Hunter New England confirmed cases of COVID-19 was 142 - 18 more than the day prior.

Currently, five COVID-19 patients are being cared for in hospitals with two in ICU, and HNEH says daily wellness checks continue to be undertaken with all other confirmed cases in its district.

Close contacts of the new cases have been contacted by HNEH and are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days from the last contact.

They will be contacted every day to check that they are well, and any contact who develops COVID-19 symptoms will be tested for the infection.

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