Government officials collecting sewerage samples from a fashionable tourist hotspot to test hidden cases of COVID-19 have wrongly frozen the lot and made it completely useless.
Specimens from Byron Bay sewer stations were sent to NSW Health for testing for undetected coronavirus cases in the county.
But when they arrived at the lab, the scientists found that the evidence was unusable after the council workers placed it in a freezer rather than a refrigerator.
Byron Bay was left without COVID-19 sewer test results after government officials erroneously froze evidence that made them useless. Bunga comes as tourists gather at the tourist spot (pictured) to make the most of the summer holidays
The disappointment left the county without the results of sewer tests for about a month, North Coast Public Health Director Paul Corben confirmed to the Gold Coast Bulletin.
The blunder occurs when a New South Wales remains on alert, amid a wave of new coronavirus cases coming from a group on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Earlier this month, other states and territories rushed to effectively ban people in the Sydney Sea from crossing borders in response to the outbreak, which is now linked to 144 cases.
As authorities struggle to stop the spread, Byron Bay, like many popular coastal towns in New South Wales, is bustling with tourists embracing the festive season.
Local Nicqui Yazdi, a representative of the local drug action team and the Byron Underage Drinking and Drug Initiative, posted on Facebook on Thursday, describing the error as “epic mess”.
“I sent several emails yesterday and called trying to clarify the lack of current reports for more than a month now on wastewater testing at the two Byron plants on the official NSW Health Covid Surveillance website,” he wrote. she.
“I received an email response from Wayne Jones, the executive director of the local health district in northern NSW.”
“Wayne confirmed what I suspected, that yes, there really was a massive thing and there were no covide tests on samples from any of the Byron Shire sewage plants, because they froze the samples instead of refrigerating them, by therefore they rendered the evidence unnecessary, she said.
Council workers who collected samples accidentally froze the samples instead of putting them in the refrigerator (stock)
“I’m literally gobsmacked that this could have happened! And the highest annual traffic volume for Byron for tourism! ‘
The council did not answer questions by phone or e-mail.
Mr Corben said no results were available from the two Byron Shire test locations in the week ending December 5.
He said there are many logistical challenges transporting samples from the regional NSW to Sydney.
“An operational error in collection led to the collection of recent samples rather than refrigeration and therefore could not be analyzed upon receipt by NSW Health,” he said.
“The North Coast Public Health Unit has provided clarifying advice to the council on the correct handling of specimens to avoid further problems with sample testing.
“Byron Shire Council reported that a sample was collected yesterday [Wednesday] and will be tested after reaching the Sydney lab.
The Daily Mail Australia contacted Byron Shire Council and NSW Health for comments.
The error was discovered after the samples were sent to an NSW Health lab for testing
NSW reported 10 cases of community-acquired coronavirus transmission on Thursday as the western inner group grows from a mysterious source.
Of the five, they were linked to the group of beaches in northern Sydney, after nearly 28,000 tests conducted in 24 hours until 20:00 on Wednesday.
The so-called Avalon cluster, which erupted earlier this month, now totals 144.
Three of the 10 COVID-19 cases are related to the Croydon group in the western part of Sydney, and the source of this infection is still being investigated.
A total of nine people are now associated with this hot spot after six infected people from the same extended family were found on Wednesday.
Of the other two cases reported on Thursday, one is a close contact of a driver of infected patients previously reported, and the other is from the west of Sydney, and the source is being investigated.
Northern Beaches locals line up to be tested at a Covid-19 pop-up test facility in Avalon on December 18
Authorities are still investigating two COVID-19 cases involving a pair of women from the same household in Wollongong, on the south coast of NSW.
Hundreds of people have been tested for the virus in the city and the government expects to have a clearer picture of any spread in the next 24-48 hours.
But Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said she was pleased that the number of cases had dropped to 10 from 18 the day before.
“So nice, we’ve seen the numbers go down today, but it’s very volatile,” Ms Berejiklian said.
They will jump around.
“What is really important is that we all do everything we can to reduce our mobility, to reduce the number of people we mix with and to make sure we follow health rules and advice.”