Wilcannia now has zero active cases of COVID-19, overcoming Australia’s worst per capita outbreak

There are now zero active cases of COVID-19 in Wilcannia after local health authorities declared the last two infected people free of the virus.Key points:Wilcannia has recorded no new COVID-19 cases for a 15th day in a row and has zero active casesThe town suffered the largest per capita outbreak in Australia, with 20 per cent of the population infectedThe Far West recorded its first day with no new cases in months todayThe Far West Local Health District said all 152 people who contracted COVID-19 – more than 20 per cent of the town’s population – have recovered.It is a stunning turnaround for the remote, predominantly Aboriginal town, which has emerged from Australia’s worst COVID outbreak per capita with only one hospitalisation from the virus.The apparent end to the months-long outbreak also comes despite high rates of chronic disease and other health conditions in the community.There were no new cases reported anywhere in Far West New South Wales on Wednesday, marking the region’s first 24-hour period without new infections since August.In total the region has 38 active cases — 20 in Broken Hill, 17 in Dareton, and one in Menindee.Catch up on the main COVID-19 news from October 13 with a look back at our blogSpace to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 5 minutes 28 seconds5m Concerns raised about the vaccine rollout for Indigenous Australians.(Ella Archibald-Binge)’A big surprise’Wilcannia Baarkindji man Owen Whyman said he was taken aback by how quickly his town was able to get on top of the outbreak.”It was a big surprise to myself and, I suppose, to the community,” he said.”They didn’t realise how quick this would end, but everyone got together and went and got tested.”Thanks to those who got vaccinated … it was good for the community and it’s just good to be out and about.”Mr Whyman said he could not eat properly and experienced back pain during his own bout of COVID-19. Amelia Whyman and Owen Whyman couldn’t be happier to back on the banks of the Baarka.(ABC Broken Hill: Bill Ormonde)He said the lockdown and multiple isolation periods have been frustrating for everyone, but that it was amazing to be able to come out to the Baarka-Darling River again.”We love to go fishing, swimming and boating, and yabbying,” he said.”Now that it’s over, we can go out and enjoy all these things that we love on the Baarka.”Baarkindji girl Amelia Whyman, 13, said it was wonderful to be able to get back to normal life in the community and hoped that was the end of COVID-19 in the town.”It feels really great to not have any other cases coming around, because if there’s another … outbreak of a COVID case then the community’s just like, ‘Oh no, not again,'” she said.”We want to be free — not in lockdown anymore, because it’s boring in lockdown.”It’s much better to be out at the river … going to the shop, buying a feed, and just going to sit at other family member’s houses having a talk, a little sit-down at the fire.”Age ‘certainly’ a factorFar West Local Health District (FWLHD) chief executive Umit Agis said his agency was still grappling with how the town managed to overcome what was initially an overwhelmingly high case load. Umit Agis says Wilcannia’s achievement is “fantastic”.(ABC Broken Hill: Bill Ormonde)”It’s a fantastic achievement when you consider where we started from,” he said.”We had massive numbers that hit us so suddenly.”We did have accommodation for self-isolation, but we just didn’t expect the volume and the scope that hit us.”The FWLHD, state and federal government faced criticism during the crisis for failing to address the decades-long overcrowding crisis that contributed to the spread of the disease through large households. Motorhomes were deployed to help Wilcannia locals isolate.(Supplied: Central Darling Shire Council)Mr Agis said only one person was hospitalised from Wilcannia because of COVID-19.He said two other locals were hospitalised with the virus, but not primarily because of it.”When you look at the state average [for] hospitalisation and people being severely impacted, we’ve been fortunate that we didn’t see that in Wilcannia,” Mr Agis said.Rapper Barkaa fears for WilcanniaCOVID-19 is tearing through the predominantly Aboriginal town of Wilcannia. Barkindji woman and rapper Chloe Quayle says the situation is so bad the infected are being forced to isolate in tents near the river.Read moreHe said the relative youth of the town’s population may have been key to its recovery.”Part of it is the fact that the age profile was reasonably young in Wilcannia — that certainly was a factor,” Mr Agis said.”I also do believe our ability to get things organised quickly and provide support in the community was another factor.”Of course, most critical of all was the community’s working with us very closely, and our partner organisations.”Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 6 minutes 17 seconds6m Casey Briggs looks at national vaccination ratesWhat you need to know about coronavirus:Loading form…

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