NUMBER OF HUNTER-NEW ENGLAND COVID-19 CASES RISES TO 18

Five new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Hunter New England region in the past 24 hours – four being people who recently returned from overseas.

A woman in her 50s and a man in his 60s are in home isolation after recently returning from Italy with coronavirus.

While, a woman in her 20s, who not long ago went on a Pacific cruise, is also in isolation after testing positive to the disease.

A relative of a previously reported confirmed case of COVID-19 has fallen ill with the virus as well, and a teenage girl who just flew home from Canada has also tested positive.

It brings the number of coronavirus cases in the area to a total of 18.

Health staff continue to undertake daily wellness checks with all confirmed cases in the District.

Hunter New England Health is contacting close contacts of the new cases, who are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days from last contact.

The region’s health authorities have also opened their fourth COVID-19 clinic, at Belmont Hospital.

It is a drive-through clinic where people are screened via phone before presenting.

They’re asking those who think they have the virus to call 4923 2211 between 8am-4pm.

The new COVID-19 clinic joins those already operating at John Hunter, Maitland and Calvary Mater Newcastle hospitals.

Public Health Physician Dr Tony Merritt says he understands there are concerns out in the community about the location of those with confirmed COVID-19, but assures there is no ongoing risk with the patients in isolation.

“Locations where these people with COVID-19 live, work or have visited do not pose any ongoing risk to the public. And it’s important that we respect their privacy while they recover. Those in self-isolation are doing a great service for our community; it’s them that will make the biggest difference in slowing the spread of this virus,” said Mr Merritt.

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Madison Scott is a reporter and producer with NBN News who has a passion for people and sharing the stories that matter most. She started her career in TV, after completing a Bachelor of Journalism at Queensland University of Technology. After producing for Nine News in Brisbane, Madison reported for Nine in Toowoomba, before she made the move down to Newcastle's NBN.