Indigenous families urged to use livestreaming to mourn second COVID death in western NSW
Health authorities in western New South Wales have urged Aboriginal people mourning the death of an Enngonia woman to grieve in a COVID-safe way.
The Indigenous woman in her 70s died in Dubbo Base Hospital after being airlifted there from the tiny Indigenous community 90 kilometres north of Bourke.
Western NSW recorded another 27 cases of COVID-19 in the latest reporting period.
Eighteen of those are in the Dubbo Regional Council area and three are in the Bourke Shire.
The Walgett, Narromine, Orange and Brewarrina Local Government Areas (LGAs) have one new case each.
There's now a total of 858 confirmed cases in the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) and 636 for the Dubbo LGA.
WNSWLHD executive director of aboriginal health and well-being Brendon Cutmore urged Indigenous people to carry out any sorry business safely.
"Use some of the online resource opportunities where people are able to livestream funerals, which I know is really difficult," he said.
"I, myself through the passing of my own uncle, not that long ago, had to do the same thing.
Mr Cutmore said a lot of the transmission of COVID in Aboriginal communities has been through family groups or going to someone else's house.
"We're still seeing spread among younger people, I really want to encourage kids to stay at home as well," he said.
"There's nothing wrong kicking a football out the back with your brother and sister, or coming up with some other games, or playing inside."
WNSWLHD chief executive Scott McLachlan says moving someone who is COVID-positive out of their community is only done when they cannot properly self-isolate, or when they need special medical care.
He said most hospitalisations were one- or two-day visits to the local centre.
"It's not always critical care," he said.
"We can't care for patients in every small rural hospital, particularly given we've got aged residents in a lot of those multipurpose services."
Vaccinating the elderly
Health authorities are calling on older people in the region to get vaccinated.
About 20 per cent of people aged over 75 still have not had their first dose of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca.
"Can I urge everyone, if it's your mum, your auntie and uncle, or anyone in your family; have that conversation," Mr McLachlan, said.
"There's a lot of AstraZeneca available through all of the vaccination services in every town."
There have been 3,500 tests carried out across the WNSWLHD, but Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders wants that number to be higher.
"It is a jump on yesterday, but that's not saying much as yesterday was pretty ordinary," he said.
"We do still need you to come forward for testing with any minor symptoms, minor concerns."